HomeNewsProsecutors in Ecuador Become Latest Victims of Targeted Assassinations

Prosecutors in Ecuador Become Latest Victims of Targeted Assassinations


The murder of a prosecutor in Ecuador is the latest in a series of deadly attacks on judicial officials, as criminal groups employ increasingly brazen violence against the state.

Prosecutor Federico Estrella was killed on August 15 when two subjects on a motorbike shot him outside his home in Babahoyo, the capital of the western province of Los Ríos. Authorities did not announce a motive for the killing but Estrella had been investigating several violent murders in the city, according to broadcater Teleamazonas.

The Ecuador Attorney General's Office condemned such attacks against its employees in a statement on August 16. Estrella's murder came less than three months after a former prosecutor in the eastern port city of Manabí, Luz Marina Delgado, was killed alongside a colleague when gunmen shot at their vehicle, leading to a car crash. The Latin American Federation of Prosecutors (Federación Latinoamericana de Fiscales - FLF) also expressed its dismay at the killing, stating that such attacks weakened democracy in Ecuador.

SEE ALSO: Ecuador's Police Being Assassinated in Record Numbers

Officials have not specified the motive behind the attack. Delgado was a prosecutor in a case against a high-profile drug trafficker, Washington Prado Álava, also known as "Gerald" and the "Ecuadorian Pablo Escobar." Police suspect Venezuelan and Colombian hitmen collaborated with locals in Ecuador to coordinate the assassination, according to local press.

Not all such attacks have been fatal. Guayas state prosecutor César Peña narrowly escaped harm after a gunman shot at his car in late July. In early May, a prosecutor in Santo Domingo, Víctor Hugo Alcívar, was shot three times by assassins who stopped his car while driving. A passenger in the vehicle was killed in the attack.

The country's prosecutors are not alone in facing such threats. Since 2019, at least 45 judges have been threatened with intimidating letters, funeral flower arrangements, dead animals, messages, and phone calls, among other forms of intimidation, according to information from Ecuador's judicial council cited by Tele Amazonas. Ecuador's gangs have also stepped up targeted killings of police officers in 2022.

The judicial council and the US Embassy in Ecuador are currently working on a security plan to protect judges. Still, there is no similar plan for prosecutors and other court officials, according to Primicias.

InSight Crime Analysis

The targeting of prosecutors and judges in Ecuador provides another example of how the country's criminal groups copy extreme tactics used by their peers in other countries.

Far from the norm in Ecuador, the murder of judges and prosecutors by criminal groups is more akin to brutal political assassinations seen in Colombia and Mexico. Before this year's wave of attacks, the country's Attorney General's Office had only recorded three assassinations of prosecutors in recent times: in 2013, 2014, and 2019.

SEE ALSO: Paraguay Grapples with Criminal Sophistication After Prosecutor's Slaying

Though the attacks now appear more frequent, there appears to be no common thread tying the assassinations together. Authorities have not linked a specific criminal group to the violence and the targeted prosecutors had no obvious professional connection. The attacks were also spread across four different cities.

But the violence represents yet another worrying trend for Ecuador, a country that has seen gang clashes spiral out of control over the past two years.

Slayings of prosecutors have made headlines throughout Latin America in 2022. In May, a top Paraguayan anti-crime prosecutor, Marcelo Pecci, was killed while on his honeymoon in Colombia. Later that month, in Honduras, prosecutor Karen Almendares was murdered while heading to her home.

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

ECUADOR / 22 MAR 2021

Drug trafficking and transnational organized crime have been blamed for deadly riots among rival gangs in Ecuador's prisons, but the…


Venezuela is increasingly turning to the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, raising questions about its possible use in laundering money and evading US…

ECUADOR / 14 FEB 2022

Peru has convicted a gang of shark fin traffickers for the first time in history but more is needed to…

About InSight Crime


Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.


InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.


Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …


InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…


Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…