In 2013, Ecuadorian police dismantled gangs engaged in extortion and usury
By Dialogo December 28, 2013
The National Police of Ecuador dealt hard blows in 2013 to gangs engaged in extortion and loan sharking to around 35,000 victims. These crimes have been responsible for many of the killing and waves of violence in the country in the past years.
Extortion and usury gangs have mostly targeted small traders and sub-employed individuals, who were paying up to 20% in interest per month, according to authorities.
In one of the last operations of the year at the national level called “Gray Night”, carried out on December 19, the police arrested 46 members of a band of loan sharks, and confiscated around 60,000 dollars in cash, 18 vehicles, 17 computers, and thousands of record booklets, supposedly with the names of the victims of the alleged loan sharks.
In September, police arrested 18 members of a band, among them, “Reguee”, alias of the alleged leader of the gang.
According to the police, the organization was composed of the leader, three trusted men, six gunmen, an arms supplier, five drug dealers, and two transporters of alkaloid.
The alleged arms supplier, alias “Goku”, was captured in Monte Sinaí, a neighborhood in the northwest area of Guayaquil.
In order to locate and arrest this criminal network, police relied on intelligence work for approximately two months. Four cars, eight motorcycles, five motors, and two firearms were among the evidence found.
Government campaign against usury
“Around 35,000 people in six provinces throughout the country have been victims of usury or “chulco” in Ecuador,” Interior Minister of Ecuador, José Serrano, said during the First Inter-Agency Workshop on Strategies to Combat Usury, which was held in Quito on December 20-21.
On July 4, Serrano announced the start of a national campaign against usury led by the Interior Ministry, Judicial Council, and National Police, which includes a plan for rewards of up to US$ 50,000.
Usury linked to the money laundering and murder
“These bands made loans of between US$ 100 and US$ 1,000 at a high interest rate. Those who do not pay are physically attacked, and in many cases, there have been execution-style murders, said security analyst, Héctor Chávez Villao, University of Guayaquil.
Contract killing is a practice of organized crime in the region that involves paying up to US$ 400 dollars to hire hitmen, who offer their services on the internet in some cases, in order to solve problems such debt collection, infidelity, or enmities.
The highest percentage of killings occurs in San Lorenzo, Esmeraldas, located near the border with Colombia. In 2009, almost 50% of the 288 cases of contract killings per month registered in Ecuador were in this city. In 2010, the average rose to 320 murders per month in hitman style killings, according to a report by El Comercio.
The city with the second highest number of cases of execution style killings is Guayaquil, at 26%, according to the report.
“The fight against this type of crime is essential if you want to reduce the levels of violence in the country,” Chávez said. “This is a vicious cycle in which ‘chulqueros’ (loan sharks) take advantage of those who need money and high interest rates preclude payments; it generates waves of violence.”
“The killings that result from ‘chulco’ have reflected in the country’s murder rates in recent years,” Chávez said.
Ecuador reduces homicide rate
Ecuador has managed to lower the rate for murders and killings nationwide by 27% between 2008 and 2012, according to figures from the National Police of Ecuador.
The reduction is significant, considering that in 2008, the number of homicides steadily grew and reached 21 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants with 2,638 killings, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
In 2010, Ecuador managed to reduce this rate to 18.2%, according to UNODC.
By the end of 2012, this figure had dropped to 1,884, the lowest figure in the last twelve years in Ecuador.
The countries with the highest rates are Honduras (81.91), El Salvador (65.09), Jamaica (39.52), Colombia (29.99), Dominican Republic (23.47) and Mexico (21.69), according to the Inter-American Observatory on Security.
The hotline to report usury is 1-800-delito (335-486).
That is very good news but here in Connecticut there is ONE group of people who are loan sharks and take advantage of people. They intimidate them and threaten with turning them into immigration. They take their cars, constantly harass them and isolate them from their families. I am one of the victims and I need help. The number you posted is missing ONE digit.