The situation in Ecuador has escalated as the cartel has begun executing hostages, with reports of at least 18 deaths so far. The country has been grappling with rising violence linked to criminal groups, particularly in the prison system, where over 400 inmates have been killed since 2021.
This wave of violence has been attributed to the growing influence of Mexican and Colombian cartels, who are vying for control of drug trafficking routes and territory. The recent assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, a fierce critic of the cartels, has further highlighted the severity of the situation.
In response to the escalating violence, President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in Manabi and El Oro provinces. However, this has not stopped the cartel from carrying out further attacks, including the killing of Mayor Agustin Intriago in Manta.
The ongoing crisis has led to calls for international support and cooperation to address the growing threat posed by the cartels and restore stability to Ecuador.