Is Ecuador becoming the 'UN of crime'?
The arrest of a suspected Russian mafioso in Ecuador highlights the increasing presence in the country of international organized crime, says guest blogger Elyssa Pachico.
On June 8, Ecuadorean authorities announced the arrest of Maxim Myasnikov, a Russian national wanted for crimes involving weapons and explosives, according to his Interpol profile. Wanted on extradition charges in Moscow, Mr. Myasnikov had allegedly been living in Ecuador since 2006 – two years before a new law allowed visitors from almost every country in the world to gain an automatic, 90-day visa in the Andean nation.Skip to next paragraph
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According to national newspaper El Comercio, Myasnikov is among three Russians with pending extradition requests, believed to be hiding in Ecuador. One was reportedly extradited on April 30, 2010, while the other is still at large.
Myasnikov is not the only suspected member of an international criminal syndicate to be extradited from Ecuador this year. In May, authorities announced the extradition an Eritean and 66 other nationals believed to be involved in a human smuggling ring that trafficked migrants from Asia and Africa. In April, police arrested a top leader of a powerful Colombian drug gang. More recently, Ecuador extradited a member of Colombia's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC), accused of handling business deals with the Sinaloa Cartel. The Mexican group is also believed to have operations based in the country.
These kinds of incidents appear to support a recent statement by Jay Bergman, the director of the Drug Enforcement Administration's operations in the Andes, who said that Ecuador is becoming the "United Nations" of organized crime.