(USNewsBreak.com) – Cartel members have a reputation for being notoriously violent, and that extends to their leaders. Several Latin American countries have serious issues with drug traffickers, to the extent that these organizations often run unchecked due to high levels of corruption. Ecuador is trying to cut down on the criminal activity. Officials recently arrested a “high-value target” reputedly involved in the murder of three journalists.
Who Is “El Gringo?”
Carlos Arturo Landazuri Cortes, known as “El Gringo,” leads the drug group Oliver Sinisterra Front. It’s a dissident group of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerillas, which regularly used violence to attack and rebel against the Colombian government. They signed a peace agreement in 2016, but those who refused to disband formed dissident groups.
Authorities believe El Gringo remains involved in drug smuggling. However, on a more sinister level, they also suspect his involvement in the 2018 murders of two Ecuadorian journalists, Javier Ortega and Paul Rivas, and their driver, Efrain Segarra, who all worked for El Comercio. Attackers kidnapped the three on March 26 while they were investigating a story centered on rising crime in Ecuador’s northern province of Esmeraldas. In mid-April, authorities revealed they had found the men murdered. The same year, officials accused Landazuri of setting off a bomb that injured 28 Ecuadorian police officers.
Landazuri was one of the most sought-after criminals in Colombia. After his arrest, which authorities announced on Monday, January 22, Cesar Augusto Zapata, Ecuador’s police chief, posted pictures of him in custody on X, formerly Twitter. He later announced the court would hold “an immigration hearing … so that he can be expelled from Ecuador and sent to Colombia.” He also noted that the drug smuggler “has a pretty hefty criminal record.”
President Daniel Noboa, the country’s leader since November 2023, has made it his mission to crack down on crime, particularly gang violence. He declared a state of emergency this month after Jose Adolfo Macias, a drug lord known as “Fito,” escaped from prison and led a rebellion causing approximately 20 deaths.
Since the start of the operation, officers have recaptured 32 escaped prisoners, killed five suspected terrorists, and arrested 2,800 others. According to CBS News, Noboa said the “war” on gangs was progressing and that “there are fewer violent deaths, there is more tranquility, [and] people feel safer.” Still, he acknowledged that law enforcement still had quite a bit of work ahead, and the war was far from over, but it was moving in the right direction.
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