Ecuador continually fights towards drug trafficking. Inside the drug trafficking map, the next stand out: “Los Choneros”, one of the crucial essential felony teams within the South American nationwhich was first reported within the late 90s as a drug trafficking group established within the metropolis of Manta, a coastal city on the Pacific coast of Ecuador.
Initially, Authorities recognized the group because the armed wing of a Colombian drug cartel, with management over maritime visitors routes by way of the Pacific to Mexico and the USA. Nevertheless, the arrest of the group’s leaders in 2011, and their subsequent integration into the jail system, gave rise to a decade of evolution for Los Choneros.
Since 2011, Los Choneros have advanced to turn into one of the crucial violent jail gangs in Ecuador, with a everlasting presence in prisons all through Ecuador, and operations in a number of cities, the place Los Choneros are devoted to micro-trafficking, hitmen, extortion and smuggling. Ecuador’s makes an attempt to include gang violence in prisons accelerated the enlargement of Los Choneros, resulting in the creation of loyal gangs depending on it, which has multiplied the affect of the felony group.
Nevertheless, current adjustments in management of Los Choneros have fueled infighting inside the group and its subgroups, threatening to overturn Los Choneros’ legacy of energy. In 2021, the group was declared a goal by a coalition of minor gangsamongst whom had been a number of former allies, such because the Tiguerones and the Chone Killers.
Over the subsequent two years, The Choneros have progressively misplaced energy towards an alliance led by Los Lobos, one other Ecuadorian gang. Los Lobos have rounded up a lot of the Choneros’ enemies, together with the Tiguerones and the Chone Killers, and have taken management of the drug trafficking routes the gang as soon as managed.
The old guard of Los Choneros has principally disappeared, particularly with the murders of its founders, Jorge Luis Zambrano, alias “Rasquiña”, in December 2020, and Junior Roldán, alias “JR”, in Might 2023. Its unique founder, José Adolfo Macías Villamar, alias ” Fito,” stays considered one of Ecuador’s most distinguished gangsters, however has been in jail for many years. In August 2023, he was transferred to a most safety jail in Guayaquil, in an try to reduce his affect.
The Choneros emerged within the Nineties in Chone, a metropolis within the province of Manabí, west of Ecuador. There, the founding father of the group, Jorge Busmarck Véliz España, alias “Lieutenant Spain,” grew up and commenced his felony profession as a small drug supplier. As his profession progressed, Lieutenant Spain expanded his territory and his operation to finally management worldwide narcotics trafficking routes on the seashores of Manta, Ecuador, a metropolis on the Pacific coast in Manabí.
In response to Ecuadorian authorities, Los Choneros served because the armed wing of a Colombian drug cartel, which trafficked narcotics alongside sea routes to the USA and Mexico. The group additionally made a reputation for itself in cities surrounding its stronghold of Manta, the place the group carried out robberies, kidnappings, extortion, and hitmen.
Within the early 2000s, this group elevated its energy in clashes with rivals for management of trafficking routes within the Pacific. Confrontations with Los Queseros, a former rival, fueled Los Choneros’s use of violence, after conflicts between the teams ended with the homicide of Lieutenant España’s spouse—successful ordered by the pinnacle of Los Queseros. , Carlos Vera Cedeño.
After the demise of his spouse, Lieutenant Spain and Los Choneros unleashed a struggle towards Los Queseros, which left dozens of members lifeless in Los Queseros, together with its chief. Solely Cedeño’s spouse was saved.
In 2007, Lieutenant Spain fell lifeless in a confrontation with Los Queseros in Santo Domingo, Manabi. His demise led to a collection of adjustments of command in Los Choneros, as police operations and murders perpetrated by rival gangs led to the departure of a number of consecutive leaders. Within the early 2010s, Jorge Luis Zambrano, alias Rasquiña, who had initially assumed command of Los Choneros after the demise of Lieutenant España, reemerged as chief of the group, regardless of his seize and imprisonment in 2011.
Rasquiña’s management started a decade of transition for Los Choneros; with extra members of the group arrested in focused police operations, and with Rasquiña giving orders from jail, Los Choneros slowly underwent a metamorphosis into a jail gang, though the group maintained a presence within the streets. This modification in dynamics additionally redirected the group’s curiosity from worldwide drug trafficking to micro-trafficking, contract killings, extortion and smuggling.
In 2019, Los Choneros as soon as once more gained nationwide consideration, when the escalation of violence in prisons led President Lenín Moreno to declare a jail disaster and mobilize the nation’s military to calm gang wars. One side of Ecuador’s technique was to switch the controls of violent gangs and members, distributing them all through the jail system in an effort to dismantle the command constructions of jail gangs.
Nevertheless, the impact of mass prisoner transfers led to the creation of subgroups within the Ecuadorian jail system, which multiplied the presence of gang wars all through the nation. Since then, the Choneros have engaged in a brutal gang struggle towards their enemies, the Lobos, the Tiguerones and the Chone Killers, which has escalated violence in Ecuador to unprecedented ranges. For many of that struggle, Los Choneros have been on the shedding finish, with the ensuing lack of energy.
Though it retains important energy, with hundreds of recruits all through Ecuador, At the moment it isn’t identified with certainty how united the Choneros are. The demise of alias JR in Might 2023 and the lengthy keep in jail of alias Fito, plus the murders of senior lieutenants, point out that the gang doesn’t at the moment have a transparent head.