In Ecuador, possible links of Police generals with drug trafficking networks are being investigated
When drug trafficking permeates the streets and prisons, through experiences such as Mexico or Colombia, it is known that there is a common factor: the complicity of public officials with high-level positions in the silent ranks of organized crime. This happened, for example, with the former Secretary of Public Security of the Mexican government of Felipe Calderón, Genaro García Luna, accused of drug trafficking by the United States, and responsible for the series of threats against journalist Anabel Hernández, who was the first to publish his possible links between officials of the six-year term of former president Felipe Calderón and the Sinaloa cartel.
Although that reality seemed far away from Ecuador, the statements by Michael Fitzpatrick, the United States ambassador to the country, opened a debate on the possible link between “narco generals” and the cartels that have established their operations in Ecuador.
“We are very concerned about the penetration of drug trafficking in Ecuador and law enforcement,” Fitzpatrick stated in an interview published on the Primicias portal on December 13, 2021. Later, the ambassador pointed to the case of the “narco generals,” whose visas had been withdrawn, although he did not mention names. That statement, unusual for a diplomat, forced the government to speak out.
That same day, in the afternoon, the Government and Defense ministries issued a joint statement in which they said that none of their generals had had their visa withdrawn. In addition, the two institutions requested the United States Embassy “deliver information related to this issue so that it can be immediately brought to the attention of the relevant Ecuadorian institutions and the investigations of the case begin.”
A day later, on December 14th, the Primicias reported that there were four high-ranking police officers whose visas had been taken away. Two of them were generals in passive service, one who was in the Anti-Narcotics Unit and an officer who was dismissed from his duties in August of this year for not meeting the requirements for his promotion and who formally denounced the current General Commander of the Police, General Tannya Varela.
That day’s publication reported that the four generals whose visas were withdrawn were: David Proaño, Enrique Espinosa de los Monteros, Víctor Araus and a fourth general, whose identity was not disclosed. The only name that has been confirmed is Araus.
Who are the four generals whose US visas would have been withdrawn?
- Former general David Proaño would be one of those involved, according to information released by Primicias. Proaño was director of the Police Social Security Institute (Isspol). Last January, after being linked to irregularities in the management of social security funds of the Police, he was dismissed from his duties by the then president, Lenín Moreno.
- Former general Enrique Espinosa de los Monteros was the second general linked to the Isspol case. Espinosa de los Monteros was director of the Police pension fund and was, for that case, in preventive detention between February 24th and April 12, 2021. In May 2019, Espinosa de los Monteros was dismissed from the Police after being found guilty of a “serious misconduct” for illegally using a helicopter that crashed in the Bicentennial Park in Quito in March 2019.
- The other general, whose identity has not yet been revealed, would have been part of the National Anti-Narcotics Directorate. What is known is that a “member of the team close to this officer” would have accompanied Raúl de La Torre – Pablo Celi’s nephew, the former comptroller prosecuted for the Las Torres case – on a trip to the United States as part of his security entourage.
- The fourth general – and the only one who has confirmed the withdrawal of his visa, is General Victor Araus. After a 36-year career, he was dismissed from his duties in August of this year, like officers Pablo Rodríguez, Édgar Correa and Paulo Terán, for not having met the requirements for promotion. However, Judge Verónica Medina reinstated them in their functions at the beginning of December, after a protection action filed by. Araus accused the Commanding General, Tannya Varela of ideological falsification for alleged irregularities in the qualification of his promotion. This process is under investigation.
Investigations of the Police
After the controversy over Fitzpatrick’s statements and the questioning of General Víctor Araus against Commander Varela, the leadership of the National Police, led by the General, gave statements on December 15th.
Varela, accompanied by the generals of the institutional command, said, at a press conference, that none of the generals in service had had their visa revoked. Commander Varela said that there are currently 35 senior officers in the Police. But, according to her, none of them would be linked to drug trafficking. She also ruled out that any of them had been called or summoned to the United States embassy. Likewise, she affirmed that the senior managers signed a permit for the Superintendencies of Banks, the Comptroller’s Office, the Financial and Economic Analysis Unit (UAFE) to execute and analyze their economic income in bank accounts and assets since they were promoted in 2016.
Commander Varela also referred to Generals Araus, Rodríguez, Terán and Correa, whose visas have also been revoked. Following Judge Medina’s ruling, the government challenged the decision, although, according to Diego Chimbo, Araus’s lawyer, his client has already rejoined as financial director of the General Police Command. With the certified copy of their visa in hand, Varela said that they must “proceed in the same way as we are doing.” That is, present the visa, which they no longer have, and allow them to open their bank accounts to be investigated. Chimbo said that before Varela announced the request to the authorities to audit the police generals, his client had already made the same request to the competent authorities.
The finances of the Police generals under scrutiny
The generals of the National Police requested that their accounts and assets be reviewed to show that they have no ties to drug trafficking. They expect four reinstated generals to do the same.
This work will be done by the Comptroller’s Office, the Superintendency of Banks and the Financial and Economic Analysis Unit (UAFE).
In addition, all the uniformed men presented notarized copies of their valid visas to the United States, because as Ambassador Fitzpatrick said that those involved in the investigation had lost their entry documents to that country.
Below is a summary of the asset declarations of the police high command:
- Tannya Gioconda Varela, Comandante General – Total Assets: $872,728.16
- Carlos Fernando Cabrera Ron, Subcomandante General – Total Assets: $542,895.66
- Byron Alfonso Vallejo Martinez, National Director of Technologies – Total Assets: $255,273.90
- Marco Vinicio Villegas Ubillús, National Director of Finance – Total Assets: $585,072.80
- Nelson Ramiro Ortega Curipallo, Inspector General – Total Assets: $631,249.85
- Fabián Santiago Salas Duarte, National Director of legal Advice – Total Assets: $190,000
- Fausto Lenin Salinas Samaniego, General Director of Citizen Security – Total Assets: $1,136,141.40
- Manuel Amelio Íñiguez Sotomayor, Director General of Investigations – Total Assets: $298,958.11
- Mauro José Vargas Villacís, Direcrtor General of Intelligence – Total Assets: $625,300.45
- Gilberto Giovanni Ponce Parra, National Director of Anti-Drug Investigation – Total Assets: $224,166.02
- Fausto Patricio Olivo Cerda, National Director of Human Talent Administration – Total Assets: $438,816.70
- Alain Gonzalo Luna Villavicencio, National Director of Investigation of the Judicial Police – Total Assets: $589,781.75
- Victor Hugo Zárate Pérez, Undersecretary of Police – Total Assets: $171,723.93
- Rommel Omar Navarrete Delgado, National Director of Logistics – Total Assets: $325,001.00
- Edwin Francisco Noguera Cozar, National Director of Special Operations – Total Assets: $828,326.13
- Marcelo Fernando Saenz Jumps, National Director of Comprehensive Health Care – Total Assets: $490,693.50
- Cesar Augusto Zapata Correa, Zone 9 Police Commander – Total Assets: $233,541.50
- Fausto Giovanny Buenaño Castillo, Zone 8 Police Commander – Total Assets: $212,004.62
- Freddy Omar Goyes Silva, Zone 6 Police Commander – Total Assets: $476,874.81
- Freddy Stalyn Sarzosa Guerra, Zone 5 Police Commander – Total Assets: $27,618.37
- Pablo Efraín Ramírez Erazo, Zone 4 Police Commander – Total Assets: $240,892.43
The uniformed men who did lose their visas to the United States are the four generals who were dismissed from office by President Guillermo Lasso last August. But they were reinstated by judicial order of Judge Verónica Medina. Both the General Commander of the Police, Tannya Varela, and the Minister of Government, Alexandra Vela, asked these officers to also request an audit of their assets. These are the assets that they declared prior to their termination of duties:
- Victor Manuel Araus Macias – Total Assets: $77,009.05
- Pablo Miguel Rodriguez Torres – Total Assets: $797,907.49
- Edgar Fernando Correa Gordillo – Total Assets: $181,658.22
- Paulo Vinicio Teran Vasconez – Total Assets: $183, 590.43