Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso has declared a 60-day nationwide state of emergency on Monday evening in response to a wave of violent crime and drug trafficking in the country.

Lasso said the police and the armed forces would be mobilized, and their presence would be felt "with force" in the streets, the BBC News reported.

Lasso noted that under the state of emergency, the armed forces and the police would carry out "arms checks, inspections, 24-hour patrols, and drug searches," among others.

Official data showed that the number of murders in the first eight months of 2021 has doubled compared to the same period last year.

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Drug Trafficking in Ecuador

Guillermo Lasso also highlighted during his national broadcast that there is only one enemy, and that is drug trafficking, The Guardian reported.

The president said that Ecuador has gone from being a trafficking zone to a country that also consumes drugs. Lasso noted that the number of crimes in Ecuador now have a "direct or indirect relationship" with narcotics' sales.

The president of Ecuador said drug trafficking had been the main reason for the rise in homicides. Many burglaries of homes, thefts, and robberies have also been reported.

Aside from giving power to the police and armed forces, the state of emergency also allows restricting the freedom of movement, assembly, and association, among others.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken commented on Ecuador's state of emergency, saying that "democracies at times" need to impose exceptional measures to ensure the safety and security of their citizens, France24 reported.

However, the state secretary said the operations need to be very focused on what they are seeking to achieve and follow procedures in a way that upholds democratic principles.

Blinken further noted that Lasso had assured him that his government is committed to upholding those standards, which are important to the Ecuadorian people.

Crime in Ecuador

Due to drug violence, the country has seen an uptick in violent acts, particularly in its prisons.

The prison violence at Guayaquil in Guayas province ensued after a fight between rival mafia gangs in prison, who were connected to Mexican drug cartels. Around 230 people have been killed in the prison compounds, according to The New York Times report.

Meanwhile, a 13-year-old boy having ice cream with his family in Guayaquil died over the weekend after he was caught in the crossfire between gunmen and a police officer.

The increase in homicides in Guayas province has been reported to be upped by 70 percent. This year alone has recorded 641 homicide cases.

Guillermo Lasso said the national government would be positioning law enforcement to bring security. He added that they would take the battle to the underworld wherever it hides.

The president also announced the creation of a legal defense unit to defend uniformed officers facing lawsuits for doing their duty. Lasso said judges should guarantee peace and order, "not impunity and crime."

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This article is owned by Latin Post.

Written by: Mary Webber

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