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Escalation of OCG activity in Ecuador almost certainly intended to deter government's implementation of hard-line security policies

Date Posted: 09-Jan-2024

Author:  Jennifer Scotland, London

Publication: Jane's Country Risk Daily Report

Key points

  • Event: Ecuador's President Daniel Noboa announced a nationwide state of emergency on 8 January after the leader of the OCG Los Choneros, José Adolfo Macías Salazar (alias Fito), escaped from prison and inmates rioted in five prisons across the country
  • Significance: The incidents occurred shortly after Noboa announced new security measures to combat organised crime, such as building maximum-security prisons and relocating OCG leaders
  • Outlook:The escalation of OCG activity is almost certainly intended to test Noboa's resolve and dissuade him from implementing hard-line security policies through acts of intimidation


Ecuador's President Daniel Noboa announced a nationwide 60-day state of emergency and overnight curfew on 8 January because of “serious internal commotion” by organised crime groups (OCGs). Ecuador's prison agency, the National Comprehensive Care Service for Adults Deprived of Liberty and Adolescent Offenders (Servicio Nacional de Atención Integral a Personas Adultas Privadas de la Libertad y a Adolescentes Infractores: SNAI), reported earlier that day that inmates had rioted and taken prison guards hostage in at least five out of Ecuador's 36 prisons.

Overnight on 8 January the police reported that vehicles had been set on fire on highways and in petrol stations in the cities of Esmeraldas, Guayaquil, and Quito. The newspaper Metro Ecuador reported on 9 January that during the night OCG members had kidnapped a police officer in the capital Quito.

Early on 9 January videos circulated on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) showing hooded individuals armed with firearms and machetes forcing captive prison guards and police officers to address Noboa and request that he consider their safety and stop his policies targeting organised crime.

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