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FBI's help requested in Ecuadorian candidate's murder probe

Friday, August 11th 2023 - 12:36 UTC
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All six suspects arrested in connection with Villavicencio's death plus the one killed during a police raid were Colombian nationals All six suspects arrested in connection with Villavicencio's death plus the one killed during a police raid were Colombian nationals

Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso Thursday asked the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to support his country in the investigation of Wednesday's murder of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, it was reported in Quito. An FBI team is due in Ecuador shortly, Lasso said.

Police arrested so far 6 suspects believed to be involved in the attack. After Villavicencio, who was second in voting intention according to many surveys, was shot dead, Lasso declared a 60-day state of emergency nationwide to guarantee the Aug. 20 elections.

Villavicencio had reported receiving specific threats from José Adolfo Macías Villamar, alias “Fito,” a drug leader of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel. “He threatened to attack me or make an attempt on my life if I continue to refer to him and his structure,” Villavicencio said last month. “This confirms that in reality our political proposal seriously affects these criminals and here I am showing my face, I am not afraid of them,” he had said.

In a video posted Thursday on X (formerly Twitter), a group of hooded men saying they belonged to the criminal gang Los Lobos claimed responsibility for Villavicencio's murder.

“Every time corrupt politicians do not comply with their promise that we establish when they receive our money, which are millions of dollars that finance their campaign, they will be killed,” a hooded man in black, surrounded by a dozen people dressed like him and holding up long guns, says in the video.

“We, the Los Lobos organization, assume responsibility for the events that took place. And it will happen again when the corrupt do not keep their word”, asserted the man, who also threatened candidate Jan Topic. “You too, Jan Topic, keep your word. If you don't keep your promise, Jan Topic, you will be next, Jan Topic,” he warned.

According to Insight Crime, a foundation dedicated to the study and investigation of national and citizen security threats in Latin America and the Caribbean, Los Lobos is a criminal gang that has played a central role in the worsening security in Ecuador by introducing new criminal tactics to the region, such as extremely violent prison massacres, the normalization of contract killings, the use of explosives in vehicles, mass attacks targeting police forces, and the display of bodies hanging from bridges as a type of warning, according to Colombia's newspaper El Tiempo. The gang has also become very active in the illegal mining industry.

According to Código Vidrio, Los Lobos began as a dissidence of the criminal group Los Choneros in 2019 and is active in Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Santo Domingo, Guayas, Chimborazo, Azuay, and El Oro.

The gang came to prominence in September 2021, when the Choneros and the Lobos clashed violently during a riot in a Guayaquil prison that resulted in the deaths of 119 inmates. Since then, Los Lobos and their allies, Los Tiguerones, have been blamed for a major wave of violence.

Villavicencio, a 59-year-old investigative journalist, was shot as he was leaving a school in Quito after a rally.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General's Office said six people were arrested in connection with Villavicencio's murder after raids in the municipalities of Concoto and San Bartolo, in the Quito Metropolitan District. One suspect died in a Fire Department ambulance after a gunfight with law enforcement officers in the process. The Prosecutor's Office also announced it had gathered elements of conviction against the six suspects, all of them Colombian nationals.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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  • Jeff12

    Targeting corrupt politicians? So they're all at risk.

    Aug 11th, 2023 - 03:19 pm 0
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