HomeNewsCorrupt Security Services Worsen Ecuador's Murder Problem

Corrupt Security Services Worsen Ecuador's Murder Problem


The siphoning of guns in police custody to criminals and a naval officer accused of acting in a hit squad are but two of the latest examples of how corruption in Ecuador's security forces adds to the country's struggles against violence.

Pedro Chiriguay Fernández, a corporal in the Navy, was arrested May 26 near the southern port city of Guayaquil after the shooting of a functionary who worked in the nearby municipality of Durán. A police official in Durán said Chiriguay Fernández, alias "El Gordo," and two other men shot at the functionary in what appeared a coordinated robbery attempt, news outlet Ecuavisa reported.

Earlier this month, Ecuador’s National Police revealed that 150 pistols were stolen from a Guayaquil police station storage unit. The theft was discovered during a routine arms check that occurred in July 2021. Since then, nine stolen guns have been found in the hands of criminals.

Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo wrote in a Twitter post that the episode showed “the absence of controls and a systematic theft over a period of time without adequate supervision."

The past year has seen other cases of weapons smuggling involving Ecuador's security forces. In November 2021, police arrested three active members of the military who reportedly belonged to a criminal structure operating in the Santo Domingo de Los Tsáchilas province, on the Ecuador-Colombia border. The officers were alleged to have trafficked arms to dissident groups of Colombia's defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC).

SEE ALSO: Explosives and Weapons Heading to Ecuador – Colombia Border

In August of last year, a soldier was arrested for allegedly providing a local criminal group with weapons. A month earlier, a man was detained in central Ecuador after he was found to be transporting stolen Army-issued grenades and mortars.

InSight Crime Analysis

Already driving unprecedented violence in Ecuador, the escalation of drug money in the Andean country appears to also be bringing the corruption of security forces and weapons trafficking to new levels.

Ecuador has seen thefts of this nature before. According to a report released by Ecuador’s Attorney General’s Office in 2015, weapons stolen from official arsenals are one of the main sources of arms trafficked in Ecuador.

The recent gun thefts are only possible through corruption in the ranks of the country’s security forces and highlight the lack of mechanisms in place for securing firearms. Indeed in March, former Ecuador Defense Minister Luis Hernández told news outlet PRIMICIAS that elements of both the Army and the police could be involved in ammunition theft. InSight Crime reached out to Ecuador’s National Police and Army for comment but received no response.

In December 2021, the US Ambassador to Ecuador, Michael Fitzpatrick, expressed concern in an interview with PRIMICIAS about “narco-generals” and the “penetration of drug trafficking within Ecuador and its security forces.”

SEE ALSO: Ecuador's Smaller Gangs Making Deadly Statements in Large-Scale Massacres

The surge in drug trafficking in Ecuador has also contributed to violence being at an all-time high. In 2021, the country’s homicide rate increased faster than that of any other country in the region. This trend has continued into 2022.

Ecuador is also a regional arms trafficking corridor, and many weapons flow across the country’s porous border with Colombia to criminal groups there.

Ex-FARC Mafia factions, such as the Dagoberto Ramos, Carlos Patiño and Oliver Sinisterra columns, may be receiving arms from Ecuador, according to authorities. Ecuador’s public security forces have been directly linked to these activities in the past. In 2018, seven members of Ecuador’s Army were accused of selling ammunition, firearms and explosives to the ex-FARC Oliver Sinisterra Front.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


Related Content


An arms trafficking investigation involving the Episcopal Church has caused a scandal in Haiti.

ECUADOR / 16 MAY 2022

Ecuadorian gangs are taking another page from the playbook of crime groups in Mexico and Colombia, stepping up targeted killings…

COCAINE / 18 NOV 2022

Ecuadorean prison authorities quietly released Dritan Rexhepi, Albania's most notorious cocaine trafficker, last year.

About InSight Crime


Venezuela Coverage Continues to be Highlighted

3 MAR 2023

This week, InSight Crime co-director Jeremy McDermott was the featured guest on the Americas Quarterly podcast, where he provided an expert overview of the changing dynamics…


Venezuela's Organized Crime Top 10 Attracts Attention

24 FEB 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published its ranking of Venezuela’s ten organized crime groups to accompany the launch of the Venezuela Organized Crime Observatory. Read…


InSight Crime on El País Podcast

10 FEB 2023

This week, InSight Crime co-founder, Jeremy McDermott, was among experts featured in an El País podcast on the progress of Colombia’s nascent peace process.


InSight Crime Interviewed by Associated Press

3 FEB 2023

This week, InSight Crime’s Co-director Jeremy McDermott was interviewed by the Associated Press on developments in Haiti as the country continues its prolonged collapse. McDermott’s words were republished around the world,…


Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…