Armed individuals in Ecuador discharge firearms during a televised broadcast as the nation experiences a string of aggressive assaults.

Armed individuals in Ecuador discharge firearms during a televised broadcast as the nation experiences a string of aggressive assaults.

A group of armed individuals infiltrated a live broadcast on Tuesday at a public television station in Ecuador, causing chaos and prompting the president to declare a state of “internal armed conflict.”

Armed individuals carrying guns and what appeared to be dynamite entered the premises of TC Television in Guayaquil, a major port city. This occurred during a live news broadcast that was being watched by thousands of viewers nationwide. They announced that they had bombs and there were sounds resembling gunshots in the background. It is currently unknown if any staff members were harmed.

The individuals responsible for the takeover of the television station and other recent disturbances in South America have not been identified by authorities. These incidents occurred after what seems to be the escape of two influential leaders of drug cartels in Ecuador.

The leader of a formidable gang has seemingly managed to escape from prison over the weekend. President Daniel Noboa has responded by declaring a state of emergency, giving authorities the ability to temporarily suspend citizens’ rights and deploy the military in certain areas, such as prisons.

Soon after the armed attackers entered the television station, Noboa released a new order identifying 20 drug trafficking organizations in the nation as terrorist factions. This decree allowed Ecuador’s military to take action against these groups within the limitations of international humanitarian laws. It also stated that the country was now in a state of internal armed conflict.

The head of Ecuador’s national police stated that all of the individuals wearing masks who had entered had been apprehended. César Zapata, the police commander, informed Teleamazonas TV that the officers took possession of the guns and explosives carried by the armed individuals. He reported that a total of 13 people were taken into custody.

The attorney general’s office in Ecuador announced that the individuals who were detained will face charges of terrorism. They also shared on Twitter that the charges will be formally presented in the near future and that the prosecutors are currently gathering additional evidence at the location of the attack on TC Television network.

According to Ecuadorian legislation, anyone found guilty of terrorism may face a maximum sentence of 13 years in jail.

The authorities have not disclosed the number of attacks that have occurred since they announced the disappearance of Adolfo Macías, also known as “Fito,” the leader of the Los Choneros gang. He was found missing from his cell in a low-security prison on Sunday and was supposed to be moved to a maximum security facility on that same day.

Officials in Ecuador reported on Tuesday that Fabricio Colon Pico, the leader of the Los Lobos gang, had fled from a prison in Riobamba. Colon Pico was apprehended last Friday in connection with a kidnapping case and is also facing charges for attempted murder of a prominent prosecutor in the country.

Other attacks have included an explosion near the house of the president of the National Justice Court and the Monday night kidnappings of four police officers, or whether they think the actions were coordinated.

Authorities reported that a police officer was taken against their will in Quito, the capital city, and three others were taken in Quevedo.

The group known as Los Choneros, which is based in Ecuador, has been identified by officials as a significant contributor to the rise in violent crimes, particularly those related to the illegal drug trade. This issue has escalated to a concerning level, highlighted by the murder of political candidate Fernando Villavicencio last year. Authorities have uncovered connections between Los Choneros and the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico.

Macías’ location is currently unknown. An inquiry was launched by prosecutors and two guards were accused of aiding in his supposed escape. However, it has not been confirmed by the police, corrections system, or federal government if Macías actually escaped the facility or is still inside hiding.

In February of 2013, he broke out of a highly secure facility but was caught again a few weeks afterward.

“I will not rest until I have restored peace to all Ecuadorians,” stated Noboa in an Instagram post. He also mentioned that his administration was determined to combat crime. The series of assaults commenced shortly after Noboa’s declaration.

A representative from the U.S. State Department informed CBS News on Tuesday evening that they were cognizant of the violence, kidnappings, and explosions occurring in Ecuador. They are closely monitoring the situation and collaborating with President Noboa and the Ecuadorian government. They are prepared to offer assistance if needed.

The previous leader, Guillermo Lasso, frequently implemented states of emergency in response to the increase in violence impacting the nation.

Macías, who was found guilty of drug trafficking, murder, and organized crime, was incarcerated for 34 years at La Regional prison in the port city of Guayaquil.

Los Choneros

Mexican and Colombian cartels, along with similar organizations, are engaged in conflicts over drug trafficking pathways and dominance over certain areas. This includes violent incidents occurring within detention centers, resulting in the deaths of approximately 400 prisoners since 2021, according to officials.

Authorities and experts have recognized that gang members possess significant power within prisons, and it is believed that Macías continued to exert control over his group while incarcerated.

On Tuesday evening, the Prime Minister of Peru, Alberto Otárola, announced that a state of emergency had been declared along the country’s northern border with Ecuador. Otárola also reiterated Peru’s support for Ecuador.