Who is Adolfo Villamar, the criminal causing a nationwide curfew in Ecuador?

The military and the police force in Ecuador are on high alert after the alleged escape of 'ruthless' criminal Fito.

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Ecuadorian authorities on Monday declared a 60-day state of emergency after a deadly criminal, Adolfo Macías Villamar disappeared from one of the country’s heavily armed and guarded penitentiaries in Guayaquil. 

The 60-day state of emergency includes nightly curfews from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. as well as a ban on gatherings. This was announced in a decree by the country’s president, Daniel Noboa who is dealing with this ‘high-level crime’ barely two months after his swearing-in.

You might be wondering, who is this fellow that has got a whole nation ‘shaking’? Let me fill you in.

José Adolfo Macias Villamar is the leader of Los Choneros, a notorious gang in Ecuador known for drug trafficking and upheavals at the country’s cells which hold a large number of their members for crimes. Many of these organised destructions at the cells are reported to have always led to the eventual absence of their sentenced members.

Adolfo’s first encounter in the grips of the law was in 2000 when he was arrested and jailed for robbery. He was subsequently arrested in 2011 for drug trafficking and other organised crimes. He, however, with the help of gang members and some prison guards, escaped in 2013 to his mother’s hometown, Manta. 

The Los Choneros gang leader is currently serving a 34-year jail term after he was re-arrested in his hometown some four months after his prison break in 2013. 

But interestingly, after eleven years of being behind bars, Fito, as he is popularly called is accused of carrying out the murder of an Ecuadorian presidential candidate, Fernando Villavicencio who was attacked and shot dead when he was returning from a campaign rally in August 2023. Fernando is reported to have received death threats from Los Choneros in July 2023.

BBC reports that a clear exhibition of Fito’s defiance towards authority in the La Regional jail is the release of a video that features him and other cell members praising him as a man of honour. A portion of the video displays his daughter known as Queen Michelle singing the lyrics “I take my hat off to you, Fito, my dad. …through his veins, good blood flows”.

The feared gang leader was noticed absent on Sunday but it is still unclear if he is hiding somewhere on the premises of La Region or is completely away from the premises. Police officers can’t “confirm or deny” his escape.

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