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Ecuador Declares State of Emergency in 3 Provinces Over Drug Violence

A couple walk past a mural in Quito, Ecuador, April 29, 2022.

Ecuadoran President Guillermo Lasso announced Friday he had decreed a state of emergency for two months in three provinces with the highest registered levels of violence due to drug trafficking.

"I have declared a state of exception in the (coastal) provinces of Guayas, Manabi and Esmeraldas, effective from midnight tonight," he said in a speech broadcast by state media.

Under the state of emergency, he had ordered the mobilization of 4,000 police and 5,000 military personnel to the provinces. A curfew will also be enforced between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. for certain areas, such as the town of Duran, located near the port of Guayaquil.

In February, two bodies were found hanging from a pedestrian bridge in Duran, a method similar to Mexican cartel crimes.

Drug trafficking in Ecuador has led to an increase in crime, which has left 1,255 people dead since the start of the year, according to official figures.

About 440 crimes have occurred in Guayaquil, the country's commercial center and the provincial capital of Guayas, and Duran.

Since February 2021, there have also been several massacres in Ecuador between imprisoned gang members linked to drug trafficking, resulting in 350 deaths.