What's the secret behind the escape of Ecuador's most dangerous prisoner? | Opinion

Ecuador was shocked by news that the country's most dangerous prisoner had gone missing from the Marina prison in the coastal city of Guayaquil on Sunday night, but authorities later admitted that the leader of the Los Choneros gang nicknamed “Vito” had escaped. .

Although Vito's fame in the criminal world is limited to the Latin American country, he gained international status last August when photos of him, shirtless and handcuffed, swept the international media. The prison was moved among swarms of security forces. He was transferred to a high-security prison for his alleged involvement in the liquidation of presidential candidate Villavincio in the capital Quito.

Although the Ecuadorian authorities were keen to promote Vito's shameful image at the time, they are now unable to face up to the scandal of his escape.

Before 2017, Ecuador was described as the island of peace in South America. Since crime rates there are low, especially since it has never been one of the countries that produces drugs, especially cocaine, but things have changed rapidly and alarmingly in recent years, the names of its gangs and their bosses have become widely known. It spreads within the world of organized crime and the drug trade through exciting stories that travel beyond the continent.

Follow in the footsteps of the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar or the Mexican El Chapo hero, here he is today, “Vito” in Ecuador, creating stories about his disappearance or his escape from prison or even his escape from the country, leaving everyone baffled .

before escaping

Before announcing the news of Vito's escape from prison, it must be noted that the Ecuadorian Interior Ministry released Hollywood footage last summer of his transfer to a high-security prison; in order to investigate the validity of the order he issued to liquidate candidate Villacencio – It lasted only a few days, before the previous government submitted a “veto” order to return him to the prison where he lived with his troops from the “Los Choneros” gang, which is related to Mexico's famous “Sinaloa” Gang collusion.

Ecuadorians understand the government's obedience to “veto” orders, especially in maintaining his residency in Marina Prison. This man, who is considered the most dangerous man in Ecuador, records video clips on social media networks in the “wing” of the prison. He enjoys having the Internet, a mobile phone, and the ability to communicate. No one dares to contradict him even when ordering takeaways, but Ostensibly he was imprisoned.

As for his room, which was recorded by his camera and that of investigative reporters the year before last, it had a TV, refrigerator, laptop, curtains, swimming pool and all the facilities besides his own farm. Raise fish and pigs in space outside the prison to feed his gang members.

In addition, “Vito” did not wear prison uniform and did not adhere to visiting hours, especially those of his wife, who stayed with him in his “ward” for five days in 2021. The walls of the Marina Prison, on the other hand, are decorated from the inside with elaborately painted portraits of Vito.

In October 2022, cameras from residents around the prison recorded video footage of fireworks and DJ music in the prison yard, which was later discovered to have been held on the occasion of Vito's birthday.

Videos of inmates present seen on TikTok showed a festive atmosphere, with alcoholic drinks and dancers brought in from abroad. Strangely, the media at the time reported the news in audio and video formats without seriously blaming the government or the prison administration for these violations, as if everyone accepted that the “veto” order applied to everyone, government and people. .

As for the events that overshadowed Christmas, they were represented by “video footage” shot inside the prison by Vito's supporters, who also brought him musicians and a camera crew to congratulate him on his return to headquarters. The lyrics of the song talk about his chivalry, kindness and the misconceptions some people had about him. The video clip begins with a photo of him holding a book, before he hugs some supporters. The song represents a genre of Mexican music often dedicated to gang bosses. All this, the government dare not take firm measures against him!

The government is in an awkward position

Although Vito and some other gang leaders enjoyed so much influence inside and outside prison, the government dealt with this harsh truth with a certain amount of power, deceiving the people by ostensibly controlling affairs through agreements with criminals.

However, violations of these protocols by criminals have sometimes put the government in embarrassing situations and exposed its vulnerabilities, including the recent “veto” jailbreak.

When the news of Vito's “disappearance” spread, the government did not immediately come forward to clarify the confusion in public opinion. A few hours later, two representatives of the security services and media officials of the presidential agency came forward to say: “Vito” was not in jail. But they did not confirm that he escaped from prison. The statement was denied in the face of a wave of condemnation that swept social media networks, and its authenticity was later confirmed, with Vito's jailbreak not confirmed until more than 16 hours later. Statements from the President of the country, the Minister of Home Affairs and the Central Prison Service.

However, frequent leaks from inside the prison to politicians confirmed that “Vito” escaped from prison on December 25 with 21 prisoners in his gang, most likely through the prison gate, especially the prisoners. Most cameras are disabled. monitor.

Still, authorities have yet to name the person who assisted his escape. The president merely declared a two-month state of emergency that included prisons, but gangs declared a state of insurgency and plunged the country into a vicious cycle of violence and random bombings.

This is not the first time Vito has escaped from prison after being sentenced to 34 years in prison. He escaped from prison in 2013 and was arrested two months later. However, the qualifications of the newly elected government do not suggest a clear security plan to be followed to combat the spread of the phenomenon, which has seen the country's criminal activity and the influence of organized crime and drug gangs multiply.

In addition, Ecuador's huge development in crime and drug trafficking will inevitably lead to an increase in the rate of intentional murder and place it at the top of the list of South American countries in 2023, with 44 victims per 100,000 inhabitants, compared with 5.8 in 2017. The rate of premeditated murder is considered a measure of the state's lack of role in the face of the dominance of gang laws on society.

Al Jazeera video of Vito’s arrest last August

Picture from France 24 website

Picture from video clip

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