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The boatman from Manta who made US$200 million in crime
Redacción Plan V

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 strange judicial history of Telmo Castro

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

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.
Sinaloa and its links to Ecuador's justice system

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

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 'Ndrangheta also operates in Ecuador's ports
Redacción Plan V

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

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
Redacción Plan V

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
Redacción Plan V

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
Susana Morán

Last May, there was a mobilization of Hanrine company workers against the National Police Command in Quito. The company has accused this institution and the Ministry of Government of not opening the public access road to one of the concessions, which is occupied by the inhabitants of La Merced de Buenos Aires, in Imbabura.

Ecuador: the war for the Imbabura copper belt
An invisible war has been unleashed over mining concessions full of copper and gold in the province of Imbabura. In the middle are the Australian Hancock (Hanrine in Ecuador) and the Chilean state-owned Codelco, considered the largest mining companies in the world. This battle apparently involved high authorities of Lenín Moreno's government, the National Police and other justice entities.


Large mining projects such as Cascabel coexist in the country with small artisanal mineral exploitations.  Photo: Courtesy


EITI Ecuador and the challenge of making mining and oil transparent
Information on the details of the extractive industry in Ecuador is still at a superficial level, especially in relation to mining, where there is disorder and opacity. Ecuador joined the EITI standard that seeks to make transparent the figures, contracts and shareholders of large mining and oil companies in the world and the process has started. However, there are several complex legal and administrative challenges and expectations due to the change of government.

Cajas, from one of its highest points, Tres Cruces, at 4,150 meters above sea level. This is an ancient lake and moorland system where two of the four rivers that cross the city of Cuenca originate. It is a protected area and any type of mining is prohibited. Photos: Luis Argüello / PlanV


Cuenca: the popular vote that puts large-scale mining at risk
The struggle to defend water in Cuenca has been going on for decades. At the beginning it was only a matter of peasant and indigenous communities, but then the towns and cities joined in. Especially the young people. Now, it is a cultural and political issue that, after the anti-mining referendum, has generated an environmentalist shake-up, whose consequences are yet to be seen.

Illegal mining left a bare, pitted and contaminated mountain. The State -through its ministries of Energy and Environment- has not taken care of the environmental liabilities. Photos: Luis Argüello / PlanV


Terror in the illegal mines of Buenos Aires comes to light
Recent sentences describe the violence and executions that took place between armed groups for the control of illegal mines in the parish of La Merced de Buenos Aires. PlanV reconstructed these crimes with court documents and confidential sources. We went up to the Mina Vieja to collect shocking images with a drone.

Border patrol agents search unaccompanied minors in the city of La Joya, Texas, neighboring Ciudad Juarez, through which most Ecuadorians seeking to reach the U.S. transit. Photo: Hector Guerrero

Nearly 2,000 unaccompanied Ecuadorian minors reached the U.S. border in the last eight months
In recent months there has been an accelerated increase in the number of Ecuadorian minors traveling without their parents to the U.S.-Mexico border. The migration of unaccompanied Ecuadorian minors is not new and has revealed the risks and violence to which they are subjected along the way. Last June 21, an Ecuadorian teenager died while trying to cross the border through the desert in the state of Texas. Last March, the US registered 19,000 unaccompanied minors from 20 countries in a single month, a record.

Between October 2020 and May 2021, the U.S. Border Patrol found 1,988 Ecuadorian children and adolescents at the border with Mexico. All of these minors were without their parents. Recent data released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) show the accelerated increase of minors from Ecuador transiting one of the most dangerous borders in the world.

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In 2020 there were more than 200,000 alerts on child sexual exploitation from Ecuador
CyberTipline is a centralized North American system for reporting online child exploitation and on Ecuador registered 242,631 incidents in the year of the pandemic, an increase of more than 100% compared to 2019. This mechanism has been helpful in uncovering pedophiles and sexual exploiters of minors in the country. Its data plus local investigations led to the arrest, last week, of an international network operating in six countries, including Ecuador.

Ecuador surpassed 200,000 reports of suspected child sexual exploitation in 2020. That implies an increase of more than 100% over 2019 when 98,669 incidents related to child pornography or child sex trafficking were recorded. This data belongs to the U.S.-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which obtains its data through CyberTipline.

Panoramic view of the entrance to the parish of La Merced in Buenos Aires. Photos: Luis Argüello / PlanV


Buenos Aires has not yet closed the mining wounds
An unprecedented event occurred in the parish of La Merced de Buenos Aires, in Imbabura. Hanrine company workers and the community of Buenos Aires remain day and night at this point. Miners and anti-miners have not given in for more than a month. A conflict aggravated by the lack of response from the State. A chronicle.


Josefina Tunki, 59, lives and commutes in the heart of the Cordillera del Cóndor, where thousands of tons of gold and copper are extracted. She is the first president of the Shuar Arutam people. Photos: Luis Argüello / Plan V


Josefina Tunki and women human rights defenders attacked by mining companies and the Ecuadorian State
In recent years, the indigenous leader has become the face of the anti-mining struggle in the Cordillera del Cóndor, where thousands of tons of copper and gold are extracted. She has confronted the State and the mining companies. She is one of the 22 cases in the report published by 19 organizations on persecution and harassment against human rights defenders. Of these, 16 are related to mining.

Josefina Tunki asked those attending a press conference not to worry about her bare feet. The Shuar leader traveled to Quito, which received her with rain and less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, this Tuesday, June 15. She headed the table of defenders threatened and criminalized for their struggle against extractivism and in favor of Nature.

Activists such as Danilo Manzano of the organization Diálogo Diverso, argue that there should be more favorable conditions for the participation of the LGBTI community. Photos: Luis Argüello / Plan V


LGBTI: No diversity, no democracy
Three LGBTI rights activists highlight the movement's achievements, from the decriminalization of homosexuality to equal marriage. But discrimination, in every sense, remains systematic and structural. Efrain Soria, Mateo Ruales and Danilo Manzano speak from their experience, about their struggle and the future.


"We can now get married, but there is still violence, mistreatment and even murder."

The "technical" smuggling is the one that takes place through sea and airports. This crime involves organized gangs that seek to establish a criminal legality in the process of importing and exporting goods. Photo: El Universo


Smuggling is part of the organized crime network
The smuggling of goods is nothing more than an expression of how criminal organizations evade the law and formality to make huge profits. Smugglers, drug traffickers, human traffickers, women traffickers, and criminal groups cohabit along this path. The problem is that the country has normalized illegality and informality.

On both the southern and northern borders of Ecuador, smuggling of goods coexists with other crimes associated with transnational crime: human trafficking, illegal mining and gold trafficking, fuel trafficking, trafficking of arms, ammunition and explosives, trafficking of drugs, chemical precursors and other controlled substances, trafficking of migrants, trafficking of timber and wildlife species, hired assassination...