Andean ministers to discuss crossborder crime


Foreign, interior and defense ministers of Andean countries will hold an urgent meeting this weekend to discuss the problem of cross-border drug crime that has plunged Ecuador into a security crisis, Peru’s government said on Jan. 15.

Peruvian Prime Minister Alberto Otarola told reporters the meeting in Lima on Jan. 21 will focus on ways to confront transnational crime.

“We have to stop drug trafficking, which is the main source of financing for this problem that has generated death, chaos and anxiety in our neighbor” Ecuador, he said.

Ministers from Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador will take part, seeking to deepen cooperation via national “intelligence systems, police and the armed forces… in the common fight against organized crime,” Otarola said.

Once a bastion of peace nestled between the world’s largest cocaine producers, Colombia and Peru, Ecuador has recently been plunged into crisis after years of expansion by transnational cartels.

The latest violence was triggered by the escape from Guayaquil prison just over a week ago of one of Ecuador’s most powerful narcotics gang bosses.

The government declared a state of emergency and countrywide curfew, infuriating gangsters who launched several deadly attacks and took dozens of hostages, most of whom have since been freed.

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