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Montevideo, June 13th 2024 - 00:35 UTC

 

 

US offers reward amid probe into Ecuadorian candidate's murder

Friday, September 29th 2023 - 09:51 UTC
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“The United States will continue to stand with the people of Ecuador,” Blinken said “The United States will continue to stand with the people of Ecuador,” Blinken said

The US State Department Thursday made available US$ 5 million in rewards for information leading to the arrest of those who murdered Ecuador's presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio last month in Quito. The State Department also offered up to US$ 1 million for clues leading to the identification of high-ranking members of the criminal group.

In the meantime, a team from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is in Quito assisting local authorities with the investigations which have so far resulted in the arrest of six Colombian nationals believed to be part of an organized criminal group.

“The United States will continue to stand with the people of Ecuador and will work to bring to justice individuals who seek to undermine democratic processes through violent crime,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement.

The State Department also stressed Thursday that investigative work “continues to identify others involved in the assassination.”

Information should be emailed to Informa@recompensas131.org or provided by phone (in Ecuador) at the 131 line, it was explained. Ecuadorian and US authorities have guaranteed all data would remain anonymous and “strictly confidential.”

Villavicencio, a former journalist highly critical of organized crime, had denounced days before his death threats from José Adolfo Macías Villamar, alias “Fito”, identified as the leader of Los Choneros, a group with links to the Mexican Sinaloa cartel.

Villavicencio's widow Verónica Sarauz was also attacked this week in Quito, according to journalist Christian Zurita, who replaced Villavicencio on the electoral ticket but failed to make it to the runoff.

“Veronica Sarauz, wife of Fernando Villavicencio, has just suffered an attack; her security capsule stopped a Venezuelan citizen on a motorcycle and with a firearm who tried to attack the car she rides. A country immobilized by terror” posted Zurita on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Antonio López Cabrera, a lawyer for Villavicencio's family, said that Sarauz was unharmed. The woman has wearing a bulletproof vest since the Aug. 9 crime against her husband.

 

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