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Cuenca is shaken by two violent crimes

Published on August 29, 2022

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Two violent crimes occurred in Cuenca in the last three days. In one of them the participation of three police officers is presumed.

Octavio Tapia, a 62-year-old man who collected old objects, lived in a house in the El Cebollar sector (west of Cuenca). On Wednesday, August 24, his body was found covered in concrete in a copper tub that was part of his collection.

On Friday, August 19th, his neighbor and in-law, Fernando Pérez, greeted him for the last time. He remembers that Tapia lived in the United States for many years as an emigrant and now enjoyed his retirement resting.

The next day he did not see him, but “the boy who was passing with him told me that some friends came and were celebrating.” On Sunday he wanted to visit him, but no one opened the door for him, and they did not answer the phone either.

There was no news until the afternoon of August 23rd, when Pérez saw a truck outside his neighbor’s house loading the antique furniture he collected.

According to these people, they bought the furniture through Facebook, and paid $1,500 to some vendors who left the place because they supposedly had a trip. “That seemed strange to me because he didn’t sell a single nail,” says Pérez.

When in doubt, he called a niece of Tapia, who arrived and prevented those people from taking the furniture and called the police. The agents managed to resolve the altercation, but when they entered the house, they perceived a strong odor from an underground floor.

There was the bronze tub, a bag of cement and a bloody knife. The police called a rescue team from the Fire Department, which was responsible for breaking the concrete and recovering the body.

According to the prosecutor of Azuay, Leonardo Amoroso, after the first investigations, the main suspect of the crime is the person who was at the victim’s house on Saturday and who said he was celebrating something.

The young man who told the neighbor about that meeting has not been located and is wanted for investigative purposes.

A crime with police involved

The authorities were barely advancing in the investigations of this case, when another crime, this time with the alleged participation of police officers, shocked the city.

On Thursday, August 25th, a man was found in a house in the center of Cuenca, with stab wounds, on a bed and covered with blankets.

The victim was identified as Vinicio Bautista, 52, who had arrived from the United States a few weeks ago and rented that house to set up a clothing business that was to open its doors on Monday, August 29th.

What appeared to be a robbery took an unexpected turn when surveillance video revealed that a patrol car was at the scene of the crime early that same day. In the video, two police officers are seen entering and leaving the house carrying plastic containers which they placed in the trunk of the patrol car being driven by another officer.

That happened at 05:00, when the uniformed men, who belong to the San Blas circuit of the Historic Center, were doing their morning shift. “Apparently they received a call from ECU-911 to verify something happening at that address,” said Edison Padilla, deputy police commander in Zone 6.

The three were apprehended and transferred to the charging hearing. “The institution is providing all the collaboration to clarify this criminal act and will not hinder any investigation,” said the police commander.

The provincial prosecutor, Leonardo Amoroso, announced on Friday, August 26th, that three police officers will be charged with the crime of aggravated robbery with death. They are Sergeant Mario David N., Corporal Christian Paul A. and policeman Angel Modesto P.

During the raids, in the home of one of the policemen, they found a laptop owned by the deceased, boots with traces of blood and in another address a gold chain belonging to the victim, the prosecutor explained.

Cuenca goes through an unusual wave of violence

In August alone, four violent deaths occurred in Cuenca. Earlier this month, the bodies of two men were found wrapped in plastic and packing tape on the banks of the Cuenca River.

The Police believe that drug micro-trafficking is related to this case.

Thru August 25th, there were 45 violent deaths this year in Azuay, according to the records of the Prosecutor’s Office. In all of 2021, 24 crimes were murders and in 2020 there were 27 violent deaths.

The crimes that occurred this year include three cases of hired assassins, three femicides and 20 deaths that occurred in April in a riot in the Turi prison.

In Azuay there is an 8% increase in different crimes, reported William Egas, deputy chief of the Police Subzone.

Among these, violent robberies committed by organized groups in homes, commercial establishments and ATMs. According to Egas, those responsible for these crimes “are people who come from other provinces, act in Azuay and return home.”

To combat criminal acts, the Government of Azuay quadrupled operations in Cuenca in the last week, focused on the control of weapons, ammunition and explosives. Police and military participate in these actions and move through the most conflictive areas of Azuay.

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