By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
QUITO (Worthy News) – Security forces in Ecuador are searching for some 30 gunmen who killed nine men working at the fishing port of Esmeraldas, officials said.
The heavy gunmen arrived by sea and land Tuesday and appeared to fire on the workers indiscriminately, authorities confirmed.
Ecuador’s Interior Minister Juan Zapata said the men were targeted as they paid “protection money” to a rival gang. Gang-related violence has been on the increase in Ecuador.
The attacks come amid a rise in violent crime in the Latin American nation. On Thursday, news emerged that a model, a singer, and a student were found tortured and buried in a shallow grave with their throats slit after disappearing on a beach trip in Ecuador.
The bodies of the three missing young women – Nayeli Tapia, 22, Yuliana Macias, 21, and 19-year-old Denisse Reyna – were uncovered alongside the Esmeraldas River near Quininde, Ecuador, last week, officials said.
Crime groups often engage in extortion, threatening local businesses and forcing them to pay regular fees for their “protections.” If they refuse, their companies or the owners themselves are attacked.
The incidents occurred while Ecuador’s Parliament, the National Assembly, was involved in an impeachment trial against the country’s president, Guillermo Lasso.
The political opposition has accused him of embezzlement. Critical legislators also blame him for “the wave of insecurity” in the country.
Lasso has denied the charges and said the impeachment is political and that he will not cooperate with the inquiry.
Even in prisons, violence continues, with investigations ongoing Thursday after correctional officers at a violence-plagued penitentiary complex in Ecuador found six inmates hanged, authorities said.
The SNAI prison administration authority explained that the six bodies were discovered in their cells at the jail in the southwestern port city of Guayaquil.
The prison there is plagued with drug trafficking-related violence.
The Guayaquil prison complex has been the site of Ecuador’s worst jail massacres in recent years caused by gang rivalries.
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