La Familia Michoacana transports drugs through Ecuador
By Dialogo March 28, 2014
La Familia Michoacana (LFM), a transnational criminal organization based in Mexico, has in recent months begun operating in Ecuador, authorities said.
The drug cartel is transporting drug shipments, usually cocaine, through Ecuador and on to Mexico, authorities said. The drug cartel then transports most of the cocaine to the United States or Canada.
The LFM typically forms alliances with Colombian drug traffickers to transport cocaine from Colombia to Ecuador. LFM operatives hire Ecuadorean gang members to transport the drugs north, past the Ecuadorean border. LFM operatives in Ecuador confirm the arrival and departure of cocaine shipments, according to a recent report by the National Police of Ecuador.
Ecuadorean gang members also provide LFM operatives with fake identification documents and fishing permits, authorities said. LFM operatives use such fake documents to operate within Ecuador, authorities said.
Ecuadorean security forces have made several important drug seizures in recent months:
• In the first week of March, 2014, Ecuadorean anti-narcotics agents seized 3 tons of cocaine in four operations in the provinces of Guayas and Los Ríos. Security forces also arrested 10 suspects and seized four firearms and 10 vehicles.
• In February 2014, security forces intercepted a large cocaine shipment hidden inside a boat off the Pacific coast. Authorities suspect the cocaine belonged to the LFM. National Anti-Narcotics Director Juan Carlos Barragán and Deputy Interior Minister Javier Córdoba announced the seizures on Feb. 19. Troops from the anti-narcotics directorate took part in “Operation Dawn,” in which security forces found 949 kilograms of cocaine hidden on a fishing boat authorities intercepted 10 miles from Puná Island, in the province of Guayas. Security forces captured two Ecuadoreans and two Mexican nationals, the Interior Ministry reported.
• In July 2013, agents from the anti-narcotics unit seized 870 packages of cocaine from a fishing boat, authorities said. The cocaine had been stored in a warehouse in the town of Chico, El Oro province, authorities said.
• In May 2013, security forces seized 470 kilograms of cocaine in the Tenguel region as part of “Operation Connection,” authorities said. Logos for BMW, Toyota, and Volvo were attached to the packages of cocaine. The LFM is known for using car logos to identify its drug packages, said Gen. Marcelo Suárez, commander of the National Police.
Police made the seizures after developing sources who provided information about the drug shipments, Suárez said.
“Knowing connections through our institution’s intelligence work is very important to blocking the illicit business of drug traffickers,” said Suárez.
Drug trafficking, not violence
In addition to the LFM, the Sinaloa Cartel, the largest and most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world, also operates in Ecuador. Since December 2006, drug cartel violence has killed more than 100,000 people in Mexico, according to published reports.
But the LFM and the Sinaloa Cartel have not brought such violence to Ecuador, said Daniel Pontón, a security analyst at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in Ecuador.
Mexican organized crime groups operating in Ecuador want to use drug trafficking routes through local networks to ensure a steady supply of drugs, but are not interested in fighting for territory, Pontón said.
The LFM was founded in 2006 by former members of Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel (CDG). The LFM became a major distributor of synthetic drugs after gaining control of the port of Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán.
The LFM is active in several Mexican states. LFM operatives transport drugs by sea, land, and air through Ecuador to Mexico, the United States, and Europe. Ecuadorean police intelligence units work in ports, airports, post offices, and border crossings to prevent drug delivery.
Since Jan. 1, 2014, Ecuadorean security forces have seized more than 5.5 tons of drugs, authorities said
In 2013, security forces seized nearly 58 tons of drugs, mostly cocaine, authorities said. Security forces seized 43 tons of drugs in 2012 and 26 tons in 2011.
Ecuador is not a major drug producer, but the country is used as a transshipment location by the Sinaloa Cartel, and three Colombian organized crime groups: the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Los Urabeños, Los Rastrojos. Organized crime groups from China, Nigeria, and Russia also hire Ecuadorean gangs to transport drugs to those countries. .
Efforts by Mexican and U.S. security forces have weakened the Sinaloa Cartel in recent months. In February 2014, Mexican security forces captured Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. With the Sinaloa Cartel weakened, “other cartels that have gotten stronger have had to take sides; it’s a game of cat and mouse,” according to Pontón.
“The authorities have a clear security strategy against these transnational criminal organizations and do not show any weakness,” Pontón said. “The security forces are competent and have been trained by U.S. agencies for decades. The Ecuadorian government is working hard to show results.”
In early March 2014, President Rafael Correa’s administration pledged that it will continue to strike “significant” blows against drug trafficking.
“Our commitment is to continue inflicting significant blows, without giving any breathing room, against drug trafficking organizations seeking to use Ecuador as a transit route,” Córdova said, according to El Universo.
It's very interesting to read this type of articles. Excellent site. I think it's very important to fight off drug trafficking, but it's also important to fight the large criminal organizations within the country, which have resulted in many foreign citizens out of control. Know the background of each person that enters the country, because that way they can categorize the type of people that come in with all the facilities and look to settle down in this dollarized country that gets the attention of Colombians, Peruvians, Chinese and mainly Cubans, who claim to earn $16.00 per month but get to Ecuador without any economic resources to survive. That's my inquiry, what to do? I'll leave you to comment. Thanks.