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Police entered the Penitentiary 7 hours after the violence began; massacres have left more than 300 people dead
Redacción Plan V

This AP image shows a dead prisoner on the roof of the Penitenciaría del Litoral. Photo: AP

New wave of migration to the U.S. leaves thousands of Ecuadorians deported

Thousands of Ecuadorians arrived by plane to Mexico before the imposition of the visa and then had to cross by land to the United States. Photos: Courtesy Pamela Cevallos / Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Almost 100 thousand Ecuadorians were detained, expelled or deported from the United States this year according to data from migrant organizations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a mission to the border area between Mexico and the United States to learn about the migration problem, which held meetings with U.S. authorities and received testimonies.
Human trafficking mafias have "generated" billions in 2021

A Mexican army soldier attempts to detain a group of irregular migrants at a point on the border with the United States. Photo: AFP

Some 110 Ecuadorians have died on their irregular journey to the United States between 2019 and September of this year. Another 33 remain missing in the same period. The risks faced by migrants, especially women, on this journey are not commensurate with the huge profits of human traffickers. A criminal business that in 2021 alone "generated" about one billion dollars for the mafias.
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.

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

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

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

The story behind the largest cocaine seizure in Ecuador
Redacción Plan V

Benchmark image

Ecuador: Anatomy of organized crime and its actors
Redacción Plan V

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
Since 2019, Plan V followed the leads left by a report in The Guardian on the shipment of plastic waste from the United States to developing countries with poor waste management. The data revealed that Ecuador has become the third country in Latin America that imports the most of this waste, which also arrives dirty or mixed. It also ranks thirteenth among the countries that import the most waste from California. This is the U.S. state that sends the most waste in the world. Behind closed doors, there are no controls, despite existing regulations. The authorities have no answers and have given contradictory figures.

Read PART TWO of this investigation here: Thousands of tons of dirty plastic waste from the U.S. are washed in Ecuador.

Published on 2021-01-25

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

Chronicle of a new massacre in Ecuador's prisons
In the Penitentiary, 54 women were taken hostage while they were on visiting hours. According to the Governor of Cotopaxi, there is great destruction inside the Latacunga prison. The Ministry of Government confirmed that a policewoman was raped in Latacunga. So far, 22 prisoners have died. President Guillermo Lasso declared an emergency in the prison system.

Photographs and videos: Luis Argüello. PlanV

The Coca river is in shock, its communities without water and its problems are being ignored
PlanV reveals -with impressive images- the impacts of erosion in the communities settled along the Coca River. But also the neglect of these inhabitants who, a year after the largest oil spill in the last 15 years, suffer from water shortages and hunger.

Published on 2021-04-14
During the day, Sardinas seems to be a community of only children. Dozens of them play in the center of town while waiting for their parents to finish their chores in the fields. They hang from a tree, others kick a ball. They walk through the streets, disheveled, barefoot and many of them hungry.

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.