Thriving in the Shadows:
Cocaine, Crime and Corruption in Ecuador
Over the last decade, Ecuador has quietly emerged as a key piece of the global drug trade, with up to a third of Colombia’s record cocaine production now exported through the country.
Cocaine produced in southern Colombia is trafficked into Ecuador through the lawless border provinces of Esmeraldas and Sucumbíos by ex-FARC Mafia groups. Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel has also made its presence felt.
These networks have penetrated the state, contaminating the security forces, the judiciary, and the highest levels of government.
A series of assassinations on Ecuador’s southern border with Peru have been attributed to gang members fighting for control of the illegal crossings by which both people and contraband are smuggled, emphasizing the danger of hard borders in incentivizing competitive criminal...
This is the second part of a three-part series on San Salvador’s Historic Center, the heart of the country’s informal urban markets and a long-time bastion of the street gangs. The stories chronicle how the gangs have used their stranglehold on the center to expand their power in El...