HomeNewsCar Bombs Send Shock Waves Through Ecuador
NEWS

Car Bombs Send Shock Waves Through Ecuador

ECUADOR / 6 JUN 2022 BY HENRY SHULDINER EN

Ecuador has been shaken recently by several car bombings, a terror tactic more commonly employed by major criminal groups in Colombia and Mexico.

The most recent occurred on May 29, when a taxi exploded outside a police station in northern Guayaquil, one of the centers of Ecuador’s recent uptick in violence. Authorities reported no casualties but a police car was damaged. The day before, Guayaquil police had carried out a controlled removal of an explosive device left near local businesses.

Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo claimed the attack was a response to police and locals removing graffiti of a tiger from the surrounding area. The tiger symbol is associated with one of Ecuador’s leading prison gangs, Los Tiguerones.

Nine days prior, police made the macabre discovery of three mangled bodies close to Litoral Penitentiary in northern Guayaquil. Authorities said that the three individuals were likely killed by explosives that they were trying to smuggle into the prison via drone.

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

On May 19, a double car bombing sent shockwaves through the northern province of Esmeraldas, a region currently under a state of emergency and vital to the cocaine trafficking route north. The bombings occurred simultaneously, with one of the cars used parked outside a school. Gas cans were also placed in the vehicles to enhance the explosions, according to police sources cited by Infobae.

All told, five car bombings took place in Guayaquil during May, despite the state of emergency enforced by President Guillermo Lasso in the provinces of Guayas, Esmeraldas and Manabí at the end of April.

An increase in the use of explosive devices has been seen in the country for months. While some explosions have been small in scale, others have been stronger. An explosion in front of Guayaquil regional prison in March left three people injured. On May 2, a blast in the Villa Bonita citadel of Guayaquil left a car destroyed and shattered the second-floor wall of a residence.

The discovery of explosive devices targeting Ecuadorean judicial officials is particularly concerning. In April, authorities evacuated a prosecutor’s office in Guayaquil after detecting two boxes filled with explosives in the building’s parking lot, while on May 17, workers at the Judicial Complex in Quito were forced to evacuate after authorities discovered an explosive device nearby.

InSight Crime Analysis

Already fueling record levels of violence in Ecuador, the country's gangs have taken to using cartel-like tactics in their war to control drug turf. Makeshift explosive attacks and car bombs appear to be the latest strategy.

The fact that many of the recent bombings took place in the middle of population centers like Guayaquil and Quito demonstrates how Ecuador’s notorious prison gangs have made significant inroads beyond the walls of the country’s jails.

Mario Pazmiño, former director of Ecuador’s military intelligence and an international security and defense analyst, said Ecuador’s “mega-gangs” have transformed into micro-cartels. These groups now pose a more serious threat to the State, challenging security forces with more brazen acts of violence, such as car bombings.

SEE ALSO: Bodies Hanging from Bridges - Where Mexico Led, Ecuador Follows

Other analysts see the hand of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación - CJNG) as playing a role in Ecuador's spiraling violence. The groups provide cash and material support to Ecuador’s gangs in exchange for safeguarding drug shipments, spurring an escalating battle for control of this lucrative criminal enterprise.

What's more, the use of car bombings echoes the scare tactics of groups in Colombia and Mexico. Ecuador's gangs took to hung two corpses from a bridge in Guayaquil in February of this year, mirroring the grisly displays by Mexican cartels.

And as Ecuadorean groups become more violent domestically, the number of explosives smuggled in and out of the country appears to be on the rise.

On May 22, Ecuadorean police reported the interception of a truck carrying 746 “explosive units” in the southern province of El Oro. A few months earlier, nearly 80,000 devices used to detonate explosives were seized in Carchi, a province bordering Colombia.

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.

DONATE

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.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

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

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 11 DEC 2020

The world’s biggest oil trading firm faces a large fine after a multi-country investigation revealed it bribed Brazilian, Mexican and…

ECUADOR / 20 MAY 2021

A string of brazen targeted killings in Ecuador showcases how violence between the country's criminal gangs is continuing to spiral…

COCAINE / 18 NOV 2022

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

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…