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Meet the Assemblymen who oppose the protection of sharks and exotic animals
Franklin Vega

This is part of the largest shark fin smuggling seized in Hong Kong in May 2020 and was shipped from Guayaquil, Ecuador. There were 26 tons, 30,500 sharks killed for their fins and the fine imposed Photo: taken from the South China Morning Post, photo by Nora Tam.

7 out of 10 Ecuadorians who have passed through Mexico have been detained

The increase of Ecuadorian migrants traveling with children has caught the attention of authorities and tour operators in Mexico. Photo: EFE

More than 62,000 Ecuadorians have been detained by the US Border Patrol in 2021. This represents an increase in migrant smuggling, whose networks include tourism agencies in Ecuador and Mexico and migration agents, according to a Mexican source. In Ecuador, experts believe that the visa to Mexico will not stop migration as long as economic and social conditions do not improve in the country.
The story behind the largest cocaine seizure in Ecuador

Police found 9.6 tons of cocaine in a warehouse in Guayaquil, Ecuador, which had the facade of a water bottling plant. Photos: Ecuador Police

Police are still investigating to which organization the 9.6 tons of cocaine found in a warehouse in Guayaquil belonged, but have advanced that its destination was Mexico or the United States. The place had the name of a Mexican water bottling company. In a previous operation, drugs had already been found in one of the trucks that had as a front the delivery of bottled water.
Ecuador: Anatomy of organized crime and its actors
Redacción Plan V

Benchmark image

Malaysia is the world's new garbage dump, after China closed its doors to U.S. plastic waste. The image shows plastic waste arriving at its main port. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP/The Guardian

The U.S. sends more than 100 containers per month with its plastic waste to Ecuador
Susana Morán

Police recaptured this morning 65 prisoners who escaped from Latacunga prison. Photo: Ecuador Police

Chronicle of a new massacre in Ecuador's prisons
Redacción Plan V

Photographs and videos: Luis Argüello. PlanV

The Coca river is in shock, its communities without water and its problems are being ignored
Redacción Plan V

Latacunga is one of the three maximum security prisons in the country. But like other prisons it has many vulnerabilities. File: PlanV

In-depth look at a prison and its crimes, according to a former prison leader
A former prisoner from the Latacunga and Turi prisons describes the management of these prisons by the most powerful prisoners and the corruption that, according to his experience, reaches police and prison guards. He also explains how crimes committed inside and outside the prison are planned in these centers.

The inhabitants of Pacto state that their main livelihood is agriculture, specifically the cultivation of sugar cane and the production of panela.
Photos: Luis Argüello / PlanV

Panela vs. mining: the hidden battle in northwestern Quito
In Pacto, the community members have been holding a sit-in for more than 80 days to prevent the removal of gold-bearing material. They are asking the authorities to revoke the mining concessions and to seize dozens of sacks of mineralized stones that, they claim, are in these camps. They prefer agriculture, especially sugarcane cultivation and panela production, to be the main livelihood of these families. One of the mining companies defends itself.

An unknown battle is being fought in the northwest of Quito. Hundreds of Pacto families dedicated to sugarcane cultivation and panela production fear that their livelihoods will be affected by mining. For more than 80 days, the communities of this rural parish have been on vigil. They have organized to prevent vehicles from leaving the area with rocks extracted from the mines.

Jorge Luis Zambrano, alias Rasquiña or JL, while leaving Latacunga prison, on June 6, 2020.

Rasquiña's master stroke in the justice system
The pre-release of Jorge Luis Zambrano, alias Rasquiña and leader of Los Choneros, had a key moment: the decision by Judge Jose Tamayo Arana to reduce his sentence from 20 to 8 years. But neither the Prosecutor General's Office nor the Judiciary complained in time about this unusual decision. Both judiciaries refused an interview with Plan V on this issue. On June 18, the judiciary issued a preventive detention order against Judge Tamayo, 16 months after his controversial sentence. Zambrano was killed on December 28 by a hitman.

Updated as of December 28, 2020
How does a convicted felon go from 20 to eight years in prison? The answer was found by Jorge Luis Zambrano Gonzalez, alias Rasquiña and leader of Los Choneros, and Judge Jose Tamayo Arana. The magistrate, who worked in the Criminal Judicial Unit No. 2 of Guayaquil, is the author of a controversial sentence that benefited Rasquiña so that he could be released from prison early, last June.

Before being extradited to the United States, the drug lord ordered the killing in Ecuador of several officials and police officers who managed his capture. Photo: EFE

The boatman from Manta who made US$200 million in crime
The Manabí drug lord, better known as the "Ecuadorian Pablo Escobar," is a key player in the conflict on the northern border. His capture in Colombia and extradition to the United States unleashed a war between illegal groups for control of the business, in the heat of which alias 'Guacho' rose to prominence. A year after his arrest, Plan V presents this profile of 'Gerald', who had assassination offices in three provinces and offered money to kill high-ranking officials and police officers for the operations against him.

Published on 2018-04-16

This is one of the few images of Telmo Castro when he was captured for the second time in 2013.

The strange judicial history of Telmo Castro
Plan V reviewed the three judicial processes that were opened against former Army Captain Telmo Castro. Two of them are for drug trafficking, and in both he received judicial favors. But in the sentences there are surprising episodes of how Sinaloa has been operating in Ecuador for several years.


Published on 2018-12-17

This small plane, captured in Guatemala in October 2017, left Ecuador loaded with 382 packages of drugs. The aircraft had a malfunction and fell in Jutiapa. The pilots were Mexican. Photo: Prensa Libre, Hugo Oliva

Sinaloa and its links to Ecuador's justice system
A prosecutor in Manabí sought to benefit a drug trafficking organization linked to the Sinaloa cartel. To do so, she changed the crime and the defendants sought to take advantage of the abbreviated procedure to reduce their sentence to less than three years. This was the same method used by the gang of alias Gerald, known as the Ecuadorian Pablo Escobar, also with links to Sinaloa. Along with the prosecutor, a judge and two judicial officials are being prosecuted. But her trial has been delayed and sent from one court to another.

The clues left by two light aircraft
The seizure of a small plane in Guatemala was the first link in a series of investigations that led to a drug trafficking organization linked to Mexico's Sinaloa cartel. The gang sent large quantities of drugs to Mexico and Central America from Manabí, El Oro and Guayas. But a prosecutor, public officials and a judge were also involved in the network.

3.2 tons of drugs mixed with animal feed in Guayaquil seaport was the last major capture of 2019. Photo: El Universo

The 'Ndrangheta also operates in Ecuador's ports
'Ndrangheta is the mafia of Calabria, the southern tip of the Italian peninsula, the largest criminal organization in the world, and according to investigators consulted by Plan V, it also operates in Ecuador's ports. The Calabrians control the importation of cocaine from Latin America to Europe, using legal fronts and perishable products such as Ecuadorian shrimp.

On October 22, nine Ecuadorians and two foreigners were arrested in an operation and 446 kilos of cocaine that was destined for Mexico were seized. Photos: Antinarcotics Police.

Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG): the Mexican drug cartel that has taken a foothold in Ecuador
The discovery of a clandestine airstrip, more than 400 kilos of drugs and 11 detainees were the result of a recent operation in Manabí. One of those apprehended is a Mexican allegedly emissary of the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG). Although Ecuadorian authorities have not provided details, the DEA has recorded the presence of this criminal organization in the country since 2009.

The need to make transparent the millions of dollars that the extractive industry moves is a challenge EITI in Ecuador.

The complex (and obscure) mining and oil taxation system
The EITI initiative proposes greater transparency on tax collection from extractive industries as well as on the destination of these resources. In the Ecuadorian case, there are a number of reservations about company taxes and little information available from the Internal Revenue Service.

Cleanup of one of the spills that occurred in the community of 18 de Noviembre, in Shushufindi, Sucumbíos. This image was taken during the visit of a commission of assembly members to the area last December. Photo: Municipal Autonomous Government of Shushufindi.

Two oil spills occur every week in Ecuador
Between 2015 and June 2021, 899 oil spills have been recorded. In 2020, the frequency was almost two spills per week, an increase from 2013 when there was the last official information. PlanV makes a count, in a timeline, of the worst oil disasters but also of those minor events that have affected the Amazon and the Coast through which the pipelines pass.

On June 26, Ecuador celebrated 49 years of having transported for the first time a barrel of oil through the Trans Ecuadorian Pipeline. Since then, the country's economy has been anchored to oil production. But this bonanza has also meant serious environmental impacts. In Ecuador, during 2020, there were an average of almost two oil spills every week, according to official figures from the Ministry of Environment accessed by PlanV.