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.
Near a small hamlet in El Pajonal beach, Sucre county, Manabi province, a clandestine improvised airstrip was found last week. With a drone, the police searched the area. The place is accessed by a long second-order road that is in the middle of the vegetation. The hamlet is next to a beach that organized crime has turned into a runway for drug shipments to Mexico. It is barely 100 meters wide and 1,500 meters long. That's 500 meters less than the runway found in Jama, also a Manabí county, considered the largest so far detected.
This would be the seventh clandestine airstrip that the Antinarcotics Police has registered so far in 2020. Three are in Manabí, three in Santa Elena and one in Guayas. And what they have in common is that they are very close to the beaches like the one in Sucre. This one also has a natural protection: a large mountainous slope borders and hides it.
Video filmed with a drone by the Police after finding the clandestine runway.
The track is part of the evidence of the operation called "Vestigio", which was carried out on October 22 in Manabí and Esmeraldas simultaneously. The National Investigation Unit for the Fight against Organized Crime (ULCO) investigated for six months a criminal group dedicated to sending large quantities of drugs by air to Mexico.
They did so from a private property located in the same sector as the airstrip, on El Pajonal beach. Six men were followed to this location, where they were observed in three vehicles driving suspiciously. When they became aware of the presence of the agents, they tried to flee, but were intercepted and arrested. According to the police, they were in charge of transporting and storing the drugs, according to the case file. In one of the vehicles they were carrying 446 kilos of cocaine.
When the police officers inspected the property, they found two holes in the ground "whose soil, apparently by its appearance, had been recently removed," said one of the officers who was on the scene. He also observed that in the excavation there were several shovels that were impregnated with soil. This led him to presume that these tools had been used to dig up the seized drugs.
The police claimed that the drugs found near the clandestine runway were buried. Photo: Attorney General's Office
According to the Attorney General's Office, the drugs were brought from Colombia and taken to the abandoned property, where a hostel used to operate. He assures that the alkaloid was buried and then transported by sea to cargo ships. But he also does not rule out that the substances could have been sent via ultralight aircraft to Central and North America.
In Ecuador, the 446 kilos of cocaine have a price of 760,000 dollars and in Mexico it reaches the figure of 22 million dollars.
Among the evidence collected by the police in operations in Manabí and Esmeraldas on October 22 was almost US$25,000 in cash, five weapons, a satellite phone and 446 kilos of cocaine. Photos: Police
The Jalisco Clue
In this operation, the Police and the Prosecutor's Office raided six properties (four in Manabí and two in Esmeraldas) and arrested a total of 11 citizens who were members of this organization at all levels (manager, coordinator and operative). All have been remanded in custody.
Following the operation, two trials were opened: one for drug trafficking and the other for organized crime. In the first, one of the defendants is Edgar Daniel C.A., an Ecuadorian with a history of drug trafficking. In August 2013, the police found more than 70 packages containing cocaine and weapons in his house. The Ecuadorian had previously been arrested in Holland, also for drug trafficking. In the 2013 process, his migratory movements were also known: Colombia, Peru, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Panama and Holland. A year later, Edgar Daniel C.A. was sentenced to 16 years in prison and in the second instance his sentence was reduced to 13 years. Despite having an enforceable sentence, he was apprehended again outside prison for drug trafficking.
In the second trial is the Mexican Miguel Ángel O., alias "El Barbón". The police consider him to be an emissary in Ecuador of an alleged Mexican cartel. That cartel would be Jalisco. In Ecuador he is being prosecuted along with two other Ecuadorians.
Miguel Ángel O. was arrested in the Colorado parish, in the Montecristi county. He is also known as 'El señor de los gallos' (the lord of the roosters) and he would have arrived three months ago, said the police to the Manabi press. He was identified as the person who allegedly coordinated shipments for the Jalisco cartel.
Alias "El Barbón" was identified as the emissary of the Jalisco cartel.
IN MEXICO, THE JALISCO NEW GENERATION CARTEL FROM ITS STRONGHOLD HAS COME TO DOMINATE ROUTES IN HALF OF THAT COUNTRY.
The Jalisco Cartel - New Generation (CJNG) is considered one of the most prolific and violent drug trafficking organizations in the world, according to Mexican news media Animal Politico. Its links extend to the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania. It has displaced rivals, such as the Sinaloa cartel, through the use of violence and alliances with local criminal groups. "From Ecuador to the northwest border of the United States with Canada, it operates a transshipment route of almost 10,000 kilometers of coastline, which is equivalent to half the distance from the North Pole to the South Pole," says the Mexican media.
In Mexico, from its stronghold in Jalisco, it has come to dominate routes in half of that country. The DEA has investigated this cartel and its findings led to an indictment against the cartel's leaders by a grand jury based in the District of Columbia. One of the charges points to Ecuador as the place from which drugs were moved to the US in 2009, according to documents accessed by Animal Politico.
Ecuadorian authorities have not provided further details about the cartel's presence in Ecuador. But this is not the first time whose steps in the country have been made public and have even been picked up by the Mexican and Colombian press. In 2017, Mexican portal Reporte Indigo assured that Ecuador and its organized crime is an "important stopover for the massive supply of cocaine" to the CJNG. "This flow of cocaine from Ecuador to the CJNG is developing, according to what the governments of those latitudes have reported, both by air with direct destination to Guadalajara - and therefore, to its International Airport - and by sea, through the waters of the Pacific," the Mexican media reported. These links have been evident in two strikes against the cartel in Ecuador and Colombia.
On March 1, 2017, Colombian police captured 12 associates of the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels operating along the Ecuador-Colombia border. The gang had the capacity to ship up to 8 tons per month. "To transport the alkaloid, they recruited humble fishermen who sailed, in the middle of the raging sea, up to 1,200 nautical miles in speedboats, which were supplied in three camouflaged points in the middle of the Pacific Ocean". Most of the crew members of the boats were Ecuadorians. The supply points were near the Galapagos Islands, another near Cocos Island and another 180 miles from Mexico or Guatemala.
IN MARCH 2016, 300 KILOS OF COCAINE WERE FOUND IN THE WAREHOUSES OF THE EXPAIR CARGO COMPANY IN GUAYAQUIL INSIDE TWO TOMOGRAPHS THAT WERE DESTINED FOR GUADALAJARA, CAPITAL OF THE MEXICAN STATE OF JALISCO.
Another fact links Ecuador to the CJNG. In March 2016, 300 kilos of cocaine were found in the warehouses of Carguera Expair, in Guayaquil, inside two tomographs that were destined for Guadalajara, capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco. Two police dogs, Jessica and Baki, gave the alert signal for drugs in the medical instrument. The CT scanners, Siemens and General Electric, were inspected manually. In the Siemens frame there were 114 rectangular-shaped packages wrapped in several layers with a black greasy substance on the outside. In the second one, a General Electric tomograph, the police officers found 186 more packages encased.
One person was arrested in this case, the Ecuadorian Mauricio Fernando M. V., legal representative of a cargo company. According to the investigations, the Mexican Eusebio Javier Valle Caudillo was the one who hired the services of the Ecuadorian company to send the CT scanners and two tables for these devices. The foreigner allegedly said that he was bringing the equipment to the country for a "commercial demonstration" in several hospitals. The CT scanners went from Quito to Guayaquil, where they were stored until they were transferred to the airport of that city. In the judicial files of this case, it is reported that the Mexican and other unidentified citizens initially tried to re-export the imported cargo without the knowledge of the defendant Mauricio Fernando M. V., who as legal representative of the company was responsible for the re-export process.
Images of the discovery of the drug inside two CT scanners.
The Mexicans hired another logistics company, whose officials told the Attorney General's Office in detail the shipping instructions given by the Mexicans. The visits of the foreigners were recorded in the security cameras located in different places of the building La Previsora, where the facilities of this company operate. Mauricio Fernando M. V. requested the revision of the merchandise and in that inspection the drugs were found. Since he did not participate in the crime, the Prosecutor's Office refrained from charging the Ecuadorian.
The drug was packaged in rectangular blocks and each one of them had been smeared with motor grease, in order to avoid the sniffing of the anti-narcotics dogs. The cocaine was also lined with transparent plastic sleeves with packing tape, the inside logo was 'R R'.
But this case was followed by the Mexican press. The Reporte Indigo portal reported that no Mexican federal or state authority opened an investigation into the destination of the tomographs from Guayaquil and whether they were going to be used by any public health institution in Jalisco, or with the private medical cluster in that Mexican state. "The fact revealed the importation of medical equipment as a way in use for drug trafficking to Jalisco, and despite this, both the Attorney General's Office and the local Prosecutor's Office chose not to open an investigation, as confirmed through transparency," said the Mexican media.
The media consulted health institutions and hospitals in Jalisco to find out if any of them were planning to acquire the devices. Most of them answered that they had no links with the Ecuadorian device. "In fact, in the national records of the Cofepris (Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks) there is not a single medical establishment in Mexico with CT scanners brought from Ecuador, which made the operation in Guayaquil highly anomalous," says Reporte Indigo. In Ecuador, the CT scanners were left in charge of the Customs Service. So far, their whereabouts and whether there was another investigation into the matter are unknown.
Translated by Manuel Novik