The United States has worked together with different Ecuadorian state institutions to jointly confront transnational organized crime. This problem is the largest threat facing both societies, posing a risk to the rule of law, peace, and security in the region.
On March 3, the U.S. Embassy’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, through the Pan American Development Foundation, refurbished the former offices of the National Specialized Unit for Investigation to Combat Transnational Organized Crime (UNIDOT, in Spanish), under the State Office of the Attorney General. This donation is the latest example of why working as a team is the only effective way to combat this threat.
Now each prosecution office has ideal space for prosecutors and their work teams, as well as adequate and safe areas to store tax files. In addition, authorities built a room for defenders to review processes with transparency, in a comfortable environment. The architectural redesign provides users, prosecutors, defense attorneys, victims, and defendants dignified access to criminal justice.
Similarly, with the support of international experts in criminal justice and criminal law, authorities created a toolkit consisting of 10 manuals and guides on topics such as context analysis to combat macro-crime, strategic development of investigations for corruption cases, financial and asset investigation, and strategic development of investigations for narcotrafficking cases, to mention the most relevant. In total, authorities delivered around 1,000 copies of these manuals and guides to prosecutors and their teams to facilitate and provide technical guidance on complex investigations to combat organized crime and its many forms.
The investment made between the refurbishment and manuals amounts to about $210,000.
“Without a doubt, this donation ratifies the ties of cooperation between our countries and reminds us that the U.S. government is a partner of Ecuador to combat narcotrafficking and strengthen security. This fight is of mutual interest, and its results are beneficial to both nations,” said U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Michael J. Fitzpatrick.
In November 2019, the United States launched the Ecuadorian Justice Sector Capacity Building Program to Combat Transnational Crime and Narcotrafficking. This project seeks to provide prosecutors, judges, and police with technical tools to understand the phenomenon of organized crime, as well as skills and abilities to facilitate investigation and successful prosecution in cases of money laundering, narcotrafficking, or corruption-related crimes.
In 2020 this project facilitated the training of 657 officials of the Ecuadorian criminal justice system in oral litigation, investigation techniques, and digital evidence. Among these, 183 officials of the State Office of the Attorney General benefited from the training.
The project has reached the most challenging locations of the Ecuadorian territory. On February 18, 2021, 35 criminal judges and prosecutors from the provinces of Manabí, Esmeraldas, Carchi, Sucumbíos, and Imbabura received training in strategies to successfully prosecute organized crime cases. The investment made from November 2019 to February 2021 totals $750,000.
The United States will continue to support the Ecuadorian criminal justice system through the project for the next two years, with an additional investment of $1.5 million. Judges, prosecutors, and police agents will be the main beneficiaries of this project.