Hooded gunmen burst onto live TV set in Ecuador after drug lord escape triggers state of emergency

World

Hooded gunmen have burst onto a live TV set in Ecuador.

Live television images broadcast on Tuesday showed hooded people – some waving guns – inside Ecuador’s TC Television station in Guayaquil.

They were seen telling staff to lie down on the floor and shouted that they had “bombs”, while shouting and noises similar to gunshots could be heard in the background.

The incident comes a day after Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency after one of the country’s most-notorious drug gang bosses escaped from prison.

The studios of Ecuador's TC television station in Guayaquil. Google Street View.
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The studios of Ecuador’s TC television station in Guayaquil. Pic: Google Street View

At least seven police officers have also been kidnapped, and there have been a series of explosions across the South American country.

Adolfo Macias – also known as Fito – was first reported missing from his cell on Sunday.

Ecuador‘s prosecutors then filed charges against two prison guards as part of their investigation into the alleged escape.

The leader of the powerful Los Choneros gang, Jose Adolfo Macias, alias 'Fito' Pic: Ecuadorean Armed Forces
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The leader of the powerful Los Choneros gang, Jose Adolfo Macias, alias ‘Fito’ Pic: Ecuadorean Armed Forces

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The leader of the Los Choneros gang was serving a 34-year sentence in La Regional prison for drug trafficking and murder.

His reported escape occurred on the same day he was scheduled to be transferred to a maximum security facility in the city of Guayaquil.

Soldiers patrol the perimeter of Inca prison during a state of emergency as a food vendor works on the sidewalk in Quito, Ecuador, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024. Pic: AP
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Soldiers patrol the perimeter of Inca prison during a state of emergency in Quito, Ecuador. Pic: AP

Soldiers arrive atop an armoured vehicle to the Zonal 8 prison after Ecuador's President Daniel Noboa declared a 60-day state of emergency following the disappearance of Adolfo Macias, leader of the Los Choneros criminal gang, from the prison where he was serving a 34-year sentence, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, January 9, 2024. REUTERS/Vicente Gaibor del Pino
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Soldiers arrive atop an armoured vehicle to the Zonal 8 prison after Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency. Pic: Reuters

Los Choneros is one of the gangs authorities consider responsible for a spike in violence that reached new highs last year with the assassination of the presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio.

The gang has links with Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, according to authorities.

Mr Villavicencio had claimed Los Choneros threatened him, but authorities have been unable to formerly accuse Macias or his group for being behind the murder.

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