Ecuador and Drug Trafficking (2014 Report)

Posted on May 30, 2016 • Filed under: Drug Activity, Ecuador, Police/Military Activity

2014 report on drug trafficking in Ecuador
Key Points

+ In the five years since the United States withdrew its Forward Operating Location (FOL) from the Eloy Alfaro Air Base in Manta in 2009, there have been dramatic changes in the level of drug trafficking and counternarcotics efforts in Ecuador, and how the U.S.-led war on drugs operates throughout the Andean region, writ large.

+ In the decade prior to leaving Manta, American ships intercepted at least 80 fishing vessels suspected of carrying drugs or illegal migrants. If these interceptions are grouped by origin of capture, we see that offshore drug seizures, which were the most effective between 2005 and 2009, fell dramatically (to the point of almost vanishing) after the Manta FOL was closed down.

+ According to official information from the Ecuadorean National Police, when the Manta FOL was operational (1999 – 2009) a total of 17 major drug seizures were achieved through maritime interdictions, totaling 81 metric tons seized. In contrast, no more than five metric tons have been captured in Ecuador in the three years after (2009 – 2012) the Manta FOL was shut down. Moreover, since 2010 only a partial register of drug seizures has been made available.

+ Ecuador is increasingly serving as a strategic country for the trafficking and storage of illicit narcotics. Its geographic importance lies in its location between Peru and Colombia (two drug producing countries) and its use of the U.S. dollar as national currency. Combined, these factors make Ecuador an attractive site to store and transit the almost 1100 metric tons of cocaine coming from Peru, Bolivia and Colombia on an annual basis.

+ Ecuador is ill equipped to deal with the increase in traffic of illicit narcotics surrounding and within its borders. To date, they still do not possess the adequate surveillance technology on its border with Colombia or in other major drug trafficking zones, such as its coast, the southern border with Peru and the Amazon region.

+ Ecuador’s strategic importance in drug trafficking and organized crime, has attracted major Mexican drug cartels to control distribution channels along Ecuador’s pacific corridor. Using transnational networks and high-level connections, these Mexican cartels operate within Ecuador to create and control new routes to traffic narcotics into larger consumer countries.

+ Other regional and extra-regional transnational criminal and drug trafficking organizations are increasing their activity in Ecuador. This includes new Colombian drug cartels that have been detected within the country, with remnants of the historic Norte del Valle cartel. As well as Russian, African and Italian mafias and organized crime syndicates, vying for control of transit routes towards Europe. Read Full Report


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