The chief prosecutor in charge of the inquiry into the live attack on a TV station in Ecuador was fatally shot in a bold daytime ambush in the dangerous city of Guayaquil.
On Wednesday afternoon, César Suárez, known for his work on cases of organized transnational crime in the violent Guayas province, was attacked in the northern part of the city.
“The dedication of Ecuadorian society will not be hindered by criminals and terrorists,” stated Diana Salazar, the country’s attorney general, in a video shared on social media. She urged law enforcement to ensure the safety of those fulfilling their responsibilities.
While on his way to a court appearance, Suárez was ambushed by two vehicles carrying gunmen who proceeded to shoot him multiple times.
Police announced on Thursday that two individuals belonging to a gang were apprehended in connection with the assault.
“The national police’s hypothesis is that the perpetrators of this crime were members of the terrorist organization ChoneKiller. The motive is currently being investigated,” stated Gen. Víctor Herrera, the police chief of Guayaquil.
Recently, Ecuador has experienced a significant increase in violent incidents. These include a severe assault on the TC Television studio in Guayaquil, the abduction of over 200 prison employees, multiple explosions in various cities, and the abduction of police officers.
President Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency lasting 60 days in response. This included a curfew during nighttime and the identification of 22 criminal groups as terrorist organizations.
Suárez conducted interviews with the 13 gunmen who were apprehended by special police forces after securing the TV station. He was also in the process of investigating the mastermind behind the prominent attack. In addition, he had been involved in various significant cases related to drug trafficking and political corruption.
Authorities stated that Suárez did not have ongoing police protection starting from May 2023 and did not ask for protection for a virtual hearing on Wednesday.
In the past five years, Ecuador, which was once known for its peacefulness in South America, has experienced a significant increase in its murder rate. Last year alone, there were 7,878 reported killings, due to the presence of Mexican cartels and foreign mafia groups using the country as a major drug-trafficking route.