Jose Adolfo Macias Villamar, nicknamed "Fito", the leader of the Los Choneros gang in Ecuador, disappeared from the prison in Guayaquil where he was imprisoned. Security forces launched a large-scale operation in and around the prison to find Villamar, who is thought to have escaped. Presidential spokesman Roberto Izurieta said in a statement that more than 3,000 people took part in the operation, adding, "We are grateful for the courage and determination of law enforcement officers."
Jose Adolfo Macias Villamar was sentenced in 2011 to 34 years in prison for various crimes including drug trafficking, organized crime and murder. He was suspected in the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio and was transferred to the high-security La Roca prison in a major operation in August. The leader was returned to the regional prison in Guayaquil by court order in September.
The Los Choneros gang, of which Villamar is the leader, is known to be involved in drug trafficking and controls the main prisons in the country.
In July, 31 people were killed in a riot that broke out after a fight between inmates in Litoral, the country's largest prison in Guayaquil. More than 400 prisoners have died since 2021 in clashes between rival criminal organizations in Ecuador's crowded prisons.