Cesar Suarez is an Ecuador prosecutor killed while investigating TV gang attack. He was at the forefront of investigating an attack on a local TV network and was assassinated on Wednesday in Guayaquil. This development was confirmed by Ecuador’s Attorney General Diana Salazar. Suarez, who worked in the Guayas province, was renowned for his focus on organized transnational crime.
Guayaquil, known for its rampant violence, became the scene of this tragic event. Attorney General Salazar, in a video on X (formerly known as Twitter), expressed her determination against organized crime: “I am going to be emphatic, the organized criminal groups, criminals, terrorists will not stop our commitment to the Ecuadorian society, we will continue with more strength and commitment,” she asserted.
Ecuadorean police, led by General Commander Cesar Zapata, have arrested two men allegedly involved in Suarez's assassination. Zapata credited investigative procedures for the quick identification of suspects. Suarez was notably leading the investigation into the January 9 attack on TC Television by armed assailants, as confirmed by the Attorney General’s office to CNN en Español.
The attack on the TV network occurred amid nationwide turmoil, following President Daniel Noboa's declaration of a state of emergency. This was in response to the escape of Adolfo “Fito” Macias, leader of the notorious Los Choneros gang, from a prison in Guayaquil. Fito's gang, feared for its involvement in maritime drug trafficking and connections with Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel and Colombia's Oliver Sinisterra Front, has significantly contributed to the country's security crisis.
In the wake of these events, President Noboa declared an “internal armed conflict,” instructing security forces to combat the rise in violence by criminal groups. A CNN team reported a significant military and police presence in Guayaquil following these orders. The Ecuadorian Presidency revealed that since January 9, a total of 20,849 operations against organized crime have been conducted, leading to 1,975 arrests.
Additionally, Ecuador’s Armed Forces captured key members of terrorist organizations, including the leader of a network of hitmen, in their continued efforts to stabilize the nation.
Ecuador’s strategic geographical position, sandwiched between major cocaine producers Peru and Colombia, has made it a crucial transit point for drugs destined for the United States and Europe. Its dollarized economy further attracts traffickers seeking money laundering opportunities.
The murder of Suarez, while en route to a court hearing, underscores the escalating security crisis in Ecuador. He was ambushed by gunmen in a brazen daylight attack, a scenario indicative of the worsening law and order situation in the country.
Following Suarez's assassination, Guayaquil’s police chief, Gen Víctor Herrera, revealed that the suspects were believed to be part of the ChoneKiller terrorist group, although the motive remains under investigation.
Ecuador's struggle with violence, exacerbated by the attack on TC Television, hostage-taking in prisons, city explosions, and police kidnappings, led President Noboa to implement a 60-day state of emergency. This included a nighttime curfew and the designation of 22 criminal groups as terrorist organizations.
Suarez, who had interviewed gunmen captured after the TV station attack, was probing the orchestrators of this high-profile assault. His work also involved investigating cases related to drug trafficking and political corruption. Notably, Suarez had not been under permanent police protection since May 2023 and did not request it for the virtual hearing he was attending on the day of his assassination.
Ecuador, once considered one of the more peaceful countries in South America, has seen its murder rate skyrocket in recent years. The record 7,878 killings last year highlight the growing influence of Mexican cartels and foreign mafia groups, turning the country into a key route for drug trafficking.