Ecuador’s soaring homicides infographic
Graphic shows rising homicide rate in Equador and rates in other Latin American countries


Ecuador’s soaring homicide rates

By Duncan Mil

August 10, 2023 - Presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, who was outspoken over links between organised crime and government officials, has been assassinated in the capital, Quito.

A gunman shot and killed Villavicencio outside a school following a campaign rally ten days before the first round of the presidential election.

The gunman died in police custody following an exchange of fire with security personnel, nine other people were shot and injured.

The killing comes less than three weeks after the assassination of the Mayor of Manta, Agustín Intriago, amid rising drug-linked violence.

“I think that what is going to change is the way we conceive of politics. I think that from now on it becomes a high-risk profession,” said Arianna Tanca, an Ecuadorean political scientist.

Though Ecuador does not produce cocaine, nor its main ingredient, coca, it sits between two massive narcotics production hotspots -- Colombia and Peru -- and now has South America’s fastest-rising homicide rate.

Several factors triggered Ecuador’s rise in organised crime. In 2016, Colombia’s government signed a peace deal with the FARC, which ended the guerrilla group’s five-decade insurgency.

The FARC had created cocaine trafficking routes from Colombia to Ecuador’s Pacific ports. The peace deal opened up a power vacuum in which Ecuadorian groups began to battle for control of the cocaine routes.

Foreign criminal groups also followed suit. The Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels recruited local proxies in Ecuador, and the Albanian mafia -- which had long helped the FARC ship its cocaine to Europe -- established a presence of its own in the country.

PUBLISHED: 10/08/2023; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images, Facebook