Last month, the Government of Colombia informed the Ecuadorian Armed Forces about the military and police offensive launched in the department of Nariño, bordering the provinces of Esmeraldas and Carchi.
The intention, said the Colombian authorities, is to recover public order and security in one of the most conflictive areas of that neighboring country, which have been hit by violence and drug trafficking.
“The Colombian offensive against organized crime will push the violence towards Ecuador, mainly because Colombia has not only entered with a new special police command of almost 700 men, but it already has thousands of soldiers who have redoubled the patrols and who have achieved to recover the spaces in which before the criminal gangs and the guerrilla dissidents acted, “said a senior officer of the Ecuadorian Armed Forces.
The great fear outlined by the commander is that the criminal gangs that operated in the neighboring territory now do so from the Ecuadorian side, where there has not yet been any military reinforcement. At least, until yesterday, no provision had arrived from the Joint Command of the Armed Forces to any of the operational commands into which Ecuador is divided, among them the Maritime, under the command of the Navy, and the North, which commands the Army.
The Joint Command had also received no provision from the Ministry of Defense. This newspaper was expecting, until the close of this edition, an answer on whether or not there will be a military reinforcement on the northern border.
Last November, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced the early arrival of some 6,500 men for the strengthening of security in Tumaco and other municipalities of Nariño, including Roberto Payán and Barbacoas, bordering Ecuador. Between the two last groups of reinforcement are the Special South Pacific Command of 650 men, who arrived this week, and the one that since November executes the operation “Perseo” in Nariño, with more than a thousand people, between men and women. The fundamental task, of both commands, is to free Tumaco, bordering Esmeraldas, of crime and drug trafficking.
That Colombian municipality, according to reports from that country, is the cradle of 14 criminal networks that will try to disrupt. While the police work on the one hand, the military has increased the checkpoints, especially on the routes that lead to Ecuador, in order to prevent the escape of the ringleaders and members of the gangs. Security in Esmeraldas Some eight hundred Marines, divided into the Esmeraldas and San Lorenzo battalions, are in control of that province’s border with Colombia. To this group are added the members of the Navy, who in helicopters and surface units (coast guards and boats) watch the sea, with permanent patrols in different positions. One of those boats is the one that, this week, managed to seize a boat with 1.3 tons of drugs near the border line. Security, at this time, is also provided by a group of members of the Army, located in the sector of Tobar Donoso, on the border of the coastal province of Esmeraldas with the Andean Carchi. They are joined by a group of the Air Force that makes the control from the air with helicopters. The Police, on the other hand, provides security in urban and rural areas. (I)