Ecuador, chaos after escape of Adolfo Macias: who is Fito, boss of Los Choneros

Aged 44, he was serving a 34-year sentence

Ecuador on the brink of civil war after the escape of Adolfo Macias, the country’s number one narcos. Ecuador was plunged into chaos after the escape of ‘Fito’ – as the 44-year-old criminal is nicknamed – from the Guayaquil prison, where he had been imprisoned since 2011 for a 34-year prison sentence for criminal association, drug trafficking and murder . Macias is the head of the Los Choneros organization, one of the most dangerous criminal gangs in the country.

The escape, according to reconstructions, took place on Sunday, before the intervention of the army which should have transferred the criminal to a maximum security prison. In the last 2 days, over 3,000 agents and men of the armed forces have been engaged in a hunt that has so far produced no results. In reality, the searches did not begin promptly: for a few hours, in fact, the authorities hypothesized that Fito was hidden inside the prison.

In the last few hours, the situation in Ecuador has worsened, with the rapid actions of criminal groups. President Daniel Noboa declared “internal armed conflict” by shining a spotlight on the activities of a number of organizations, including Los Choneros. The gang, born in the coastal province of Manabì, has created strong ties with the Mexican Sinaloa cartel over the years. Drug trafficking is the ‘core business’ of the organisation, which must also answer for a long list of other crimes: from murders to robberies and extortion. All this, accompanied by bloody clashes with rival gangs.

Ecuador, which borders Colombia, has progressively assumed an increasingly central role in the drug trafficking scene and in particular in the cocaine trade that travels to the USA and Europe. The country represents a hub and base of operations for criminal organizations, including Los Choneros. Macias rose to the top of the hierarchical ladder about a year ago, when the death of the previous boss, Junior Roldan, was confirmed in Colombia.

‘Fito’ is now the undisputed boss and aims to regain total control of the business after the second escape of his career. The first, crowned with a boat escape on the Daule river, in 2013 gave him his freedom back for 3 months, before his new capture. In Guayaquil prison, in recent years, the boss has benefited from particular treatment, according to information that has filtered out. Inside the penitentiary, Los Choneros ran a widespread racket by extorting prisoners who were forced to pay sums of between 10 and 20 dollars every week. The organization has controlled internal prison trafficking for years, with a business estimated at 70 thousand dollars a week. In the prison, Macias obtained the construction of swimming pools, the organization of parties and even press conferences and ‘speeches to the nation’, such as the one in which in July last year he asked all criminal organizations to lay down their arms. Threats and corruption then made it possible to systematically bring in weapons. In short, the escape was only the almost predictable outcome of a consolidated process.