Due to a constitutional lockdown, Ecuador cannot extradite drug traffickers to the United States. That is why criminals are detained in Colombia. He passed under the alias ‘Gerald’ and is passing under the alias ‘Gato’.
History repeats itself. The two most important Ecuadorian drug traffickers in the criminal world and required to be tried in the United States, alias ‘Gato’ and alias ‘Gerald’, were arrested in Colombia so that their extraditions can take place.
On February 9, 2023, Wilder Emilio Sánchez Farfán, known by the aliases of ‘ Gato ‘, ‘ Gato Farfán ‘ or ‘ Gato Jerry ‘, was driving a pickup truck on the Colombian Pan-American Highway in the Pasto sector, a municipality in the department of Nariño in southern Colombia, near the border with Ecuador.
A Colombian Police operative detained him during a routine check. The Ecuadorian drug trafficker showed a false identification to pass himself off as a citizen of that country. But the officers were suspicious of the document.
The agents thoroughly searched Alias ’Gato’. His fingerprints on him and a tattoo on one of his arms gave him away. The Colombian agents discovered that it was Sánchez Farfán, an Ecuadorian drug trafficker, wanted by the United States.
After the procedures for the legalization of his detention, the same afternoon of February 9, the Colombian authorities transferred Sánchez Farfán to Bogotá. In that city he will continue to be detained while the extradition process is completed.
Something similar happened with Édison Washington Prado Álava, alias ‘ Gerald ‘, in 2017. The manabita capo was also captured in the department of Nariño, Colombia.
Then he was transferred to Bogotá and, after almost a year in the process, he was extradited to the United States, where he received a sentence of more than 19 years in prison, which he is serving in the Sandstone Federal Prison, Minnesota.
There is only one difference in both cases. The authorities of Ecuador, the United States and Colombia “took” Prado to the latter country. A Colombian agent infiltrated her world and invited him to visit her in her country. As soon as he crossed the border, the Colombian Police detained ‘Gerald’ in Ipiales.
According to reports from the Ecuadorian Police, Sánchez Farfán was based in Ecuador. But recently, he decided to take refuge in Colombia for a while, “after some deaths.”
On January 21, 2023, Carlos Kada, an alleged financier of the Los Tiguerones gang, was assassinated in Guayas. Police intelligence agents believe that alias ‘Gato’ was behind that murder. Both were fighting for control of the clandestine runways for the air shipment of cocaine from Santa Elena, an Ecuadorian coastal province.
Before that death is carried out, Sánchez Farfán had already gone to Colombia. While residing in Ecuador, he alternated between a bunker built in Imbabura and an apartment in Guayas.
Extradition from Colombia
Since 1946, in Ecuador the extradition of its citizens to other countries has been prohibited. In the Constitution that was approved that year, during the government of José María Velasco Ibarra, the proscription was established.
Article 188 of that norm, on special guarantees for Ecuadorians, establishes that “in no case will the extradition of an Ecuadorian citizen be granted.”
This prohibition was ratified in the constitutions of 1967, 1978 (return to democracy) and 1998. As well as in that of 2008, which was approved in Montecristi, and which remains in force.
President Guillermo Lasso tried to remove that lock through a constitutional referendum. On February 5, 2023, the public voted on eight questions posed by the Executive.
The first referred, precisely, to the possibility of extraditing Ecuadorians who have committed crimes related to transnational organized crime, for example, drug trafficking.
However, ‘No’ prevailed in all eight questions, so the lock remains. Until 5:00 p.m. on February 9, 2023, the CNE had scrutinized 99.01% of the tally sheets corresponding to that question. The ‘No’ had 51.68% support.
In addition to that constitutional prohibition, Ecuador has another obstacle to extradite criminals. The country has 16 bilateral and four multilateral agreements to implement eventual extraditions.
However, almost all of them are out of date. For example, the treaty with the United States was approved in 1872 and its last update was in 1939.
In that country, alias ‘Gato’ is accused by a court of the Southern District of California for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
Along with him, eight other people were accused, and the case has a reserved part. His name entered the United States radar after a cocaine seizure occurred in Panama in 2019.
The handbook of alias ‘Cat’
The judicial record of Wilder Sánchez Farfán, alias ‘Gato’, began on June 6, 2013. That day the Police arrested him in the Galaxy operation, while trying to send almost half a ton of cocaine to Mexico, from a track in El Empalme (Guayas).
At that time, alias ‘Gato’ was part of an organization led by Telmo Castro, former captain of the Ecuadorian Army and contact for the Sinaloa Cartel in the country. Castro was assassinated in the Litoral Penitentiary, at the end of 2019.
In mid-2014, a Guayas Criminal Court sentenced Castro to 10 years and eight months in prison, and Sánchez Farfán to three years. In December 2014, the Guayas Court raised the sentence for alias ‘Gato’ to four years.
But, in January 2016, he was released from prison thanks to the pre-release benefit. From there he was not captured again and, in these years, -according to the United States Government- he has become one of the most important drug traffickers in the world.
In United States
On February 10, 2022, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury sanctioned Sánchez Farfán with the blocking of all properties and interests in the assets that are within from United States.
The report says that shipments of cocaine from alias ‘Gato’ are dispatched from Ecuador to Central America, Mexico and the United States, through private planes, maritime vessels, commercial containers and land vehicles .
It has ties to the strongest cartels in Mexico: Sinaloa and Jalisco Nueva Generación .
Links to prison massacres
The Ecuadorian Police point to him as one of those responsible for the prison massacres that have already totaled more than 400 deaths in two years and the wave of violence in six provinces that caused Ecuador to reach a death rate of more than 25 per 100,000 inhabitants.
When Sánchez Farfán was arrested in 2013, Jaime Mallorca, leader of a gang known as Los Mexicanos, was also captured. Mallorca was assassinated in December 2020 in the Latacunga Prison.
The authorities believe that José Luis Zambrano, alias ‘Rasquiña’, former leader of Los Choneros, was behind that death. In revenge for the death of Mallorca, ‘ Gato ‘ would have ordered the murder of ‘ Rasquiña ‘ two weeks later.
The death of ‘Rasquiña’ caused a schism in the criminal world. Gangs like Los Lobos, led by ‘Gato’, and Los Tiguerones tried to gain total control of drug trafficking routes.
That dispute, according to the Police, would be the main reason for the gang war that has caused the worst security crisis in Ecuador in its history.