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Ecuadorian Prison Director Killed in Attack Amid National Referendum on Crime

The director of an Ecuadorian prison, known as “El Rodeo,” was killed on Sunday in a targeted attack, coinciding with a national referendum focused on President Daniel Noboa’s anti-crime agenda. The incident occurred as millions of Ecuadorians headed to the polls to vote on measures aimed at curbing organized crime. Here are some details according to the report of CNN International.

Details of the Attack

The Ecuadorian National Prisons Agency (SNAI) identified the victim as Cosme Damián Parrales Merchán, the director of the Manabi region prison. The attack also injured another person, according to the Ecuador Prosecutor’s Office, which has launched an investigation. Authorities haven’t made any arrests yet and haven’t disclosed further details about the circumstances surrounding Parrales’ death.

The killing of Parrales underscores the precarious security situation in Ecuador as the country voted in a referendum aimed at strengthening law enforcement’s ability to combat organized crime. The proposed measures aim to address the country’s security challenges by allowing the military to patrol alongside police. Additionally, they suggest permitting the extradition of Ecuadorians for trial abroad and increasing penalties for violent crimes.

President Noboa’s anti-crime platform seeks to address the surge in violence and organized crime that has plagued Ecuador in recent years. Ecuador was once recognized as an “island of peace.” These ports have become key transit points for cocaine trafficked from Peru and Colombia. This transformation has triggered a rise in cartel-related violence in Ecuador.

Escalating Crime and Government Response

The country’s rising crime rate has alarmed residents and government officials alike. According to the Ecuadorian National Police, the murder rate rose from 5.8 homicides per 100,000 people in 2016 to 25.6 in 2022. This surge has brought Ecuador’s cartel-related violence to levels seen in Colombia and Mexico.

President Noboa declared a nationwide state of emergency after notorious gang leader Adolfo Macias, also known as Fito, escaped from a prison in Guayaquil. This city is Ecuador’s largest and has a reputation for high levels of danger and violence.

SNAI expressed grief over Parrales’ killing, stating that it brought sorrow to the entire National Social Rehabilitation System. The agency pledged to work with local authorities to investigate the attack.

Public reactions to the incident and the referendum results could shape the future of Ecuador’s crime-fighting strategy.

Read Also: ‘Rust’ Armorer Found Guilty Over Deadly Set Shooting: A Case of Systemic Safety Failures

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