Ecuador police say gang leader implicated in killing of prosecutor arrested in Panama

By Alexandra Valencia

QUITO (Reuters) -Ecuadorean police said on Thursday that the leader of a major gang from the South American country, who is implicated in the January murder of a prosecutor, among other crimes, has been arrested in Panama.

Ecuadorean authorities have been fighting spiking violence they blame on drug trafficking gangs, with President Daniel Noboa employing state of emergency declarations to send the military into the streets.

Julio Alberto M. A., who goes by the alias "Negro Tulio" and is the alleged leader of the Chone Killers gang, was arrested in Panama with his wife thanks to bilateral cooperation, the police said in a statement.

Ecuadorean authorities do not typically released the full names of people under arrest, but the police said the man, who will be extradited from Panama to face terrorism and other charges, is implicated in the killings of two prosecutors, one in June 2023 and another in January 2024, as well as "various terrorist attacks" in November 2022.

Prosecutor Cesar Suarez, who focused on pursuing organized trans-national crime in Guayas province, was attacked and killed as he drove in northern Guayaquil by gunmen in two cars in January.

In a separate statement, the police said they had arrested a woman they say is the partner of escaped Los Choneros gang leader Jose Adolfo Macias, alleging she handled financial transactions for the group.

(Reporting by Alexandra ValenciaWriting by Julia Symmes Cobb)