Security & Strategic Review - March 2021

ECUADOR: Rise in narcotrafficking activity pushes up homicide rate

In 2020 Ecuador registered its highest murder rate in six years, despite the significant mobility restrictions in place during the worst months of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in the country. The rise has been attributed to an escalation in gang warfare, leading to violence on the streets as well as in jails, amid an apparent surge in narcotrafficking activity. A recent coordinated massacre in four prisons which left at least 79 dead, surpassing in just one day the total number of homicides in jails in 2020, has shocked the country and will move security up the political agenda. Nonetheless, although the government has launched a campaign to strengthen security forces and reinforce jails, progress in reversing the trend will ultimately depend on the priorities of the incoming administration.

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