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Is Ecuador prepared to counter rise in organized crime?

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• A version of this post ran on the author's site, Insightcrime.com. The views expressed are the author's own.

An assessment by Ecuadorian security forces reportedly says that Ecuador is home to an increasing number of organized criminal groups, and that the authorities have underestimated the problem.

El Comercio reports (in Spanish) that a review by the military says that drug trafficking and organized crime may soon overwhelm the country, if "adequate measures" are not taken in time.

According to the newspaper, the 225-page report warns that if drug-related violence rises, the army will be charged with tackling the problem.

Foreign drug trafficking organizations like the Sinaloa Cartel have been present in Ecuador "for years," according to a police intelligence report quoted by El Comercio.

According to the newspaper, the police report suggests that the security forces have underestimated the extent of the problem because drug-related killings are relatively low compared to Mexico. "What is worrying is that the authorities do not fully understand what is happening with the problem of organized crime. The 'Mexico effect' is not yet visible in Ecuador," the report says.

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