Containing Contagion

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Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa this week declared a new state of emergency in parts of the South American country, a move aimed at addressing the rising number of murders and other crimes as security forces shore up their fight against drug gangs, Reuters reported.

The new measure will be in force for 60 days in seven of Ecuador’s 24 provinces, including Guayas El Oro and Los Rios. The decree will allow authorities to enter homes and intercept communications in those provinces without prior authorization.

The president cited rising violence, and the number of violent deaths, in those regions, adding that the new decree will be submitted to the Constitutional Court for review.

Earlier this month, the court rendered the previous emergency declaration void, saying that it was not sufficiently justified.

The decision comes as Ecuadorian police and army are attempting to combat rival narco-trafficking gangs that have plagued the country.

Located between top cocaine exporters Peru and Colombia, the country has seen a surge in violence in recent years as feuding gangs with links to Mexican and Colombian cartels vie for control, according to Agence France-Presse.

Gang wars have been frequent in Ecuadorian prisons, leaving hundreds of prisoners dead.

Noboa declared a state of emergency in January after a major drug kingpin escaped from a maximum security facility. He has said that the country is in a state of “internal armed conflict” and ordered the military to “neutralize” 22 criminal groups.

While government data has shown that violent deaths dropped 28 percent in the first months of 2024 compared with the same period in 2023, the rates of other crimes such as kidnappings and extortion have risen.

Meanwhile, authorities have launched investigations into allegations of extrajudicial killings following complaints from human rights groups.

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