Ecuador Arrests Judges, Lawyers and Police Officers for Helping Criminals

Published: 05 April 2024

Ecuador Arrest FiscaliaOne of those captured in Wednesday's simultaneous raids related to the Plague Case was a first-level judge in the Flavio Alfaro district. (Photo: Fiscalía Ecuador/X, License)

By Lieth Carrillo

More than a dozen individuals, including judges, police officers and lawyers, were arrested on Wednesday for allegedly running a criminal network within Ecuador's judicial system that helped dangerous criminals to get out of prison through shady legal maneuvers.

The Public Prosecutor's Office of Ecuador, in coordination with the National Police, conducted multiple simultaneous raids in what they called the "Plague Case" in the cities of El Oro, Azuay, Manabí, Pichincha, Chimborazo, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, Tungurahua and Guayas.

The operation targeted officials within the judicial system and the police as well as persons holding public office and lawyers in free practice. All of them are believed to have used abused the law and used legal tricks to grant freedom to dangerous criminals.

The 14 arrested individuals face charges of influence peddling, extortion, bribery, illicit enrichment or money laundering. So far, 13 of the 14 defendants will remain in custody and just one is only banned from leaving the country because she is pregnant.

"For years, the government has been lukewarm in declaring war on all these criminals, regardless of the sphere of power,” the country's president Daniel Noboa said, referring to his predecessors and urging people to keep that in mind when they vote.

Some of the defendants are also involved in the so-called Metastasis Case, the largest anti-corruption and drug trafficking process in Ecuador's history, in which a drug trafficker leader paid bribes to officials from Ecuador's judiciary, legislature and security forces in exchange for helping him keep his criminal empire while behind bars.

The Plaga Case and the Metastasis Case are not the only ones that have been targeting criminal organizations within the judicial system in Ecuador. At the beginning of March, the Purga Case was announced, in which 12 people were prosecuted for participating in a criminal scheme within the Guayas judicial system to favor private interests and drug trafficking.