U.S. Treasury sanctions Ecuadorean crime gang Los Lobos and its leader-statement

By Thomson Reuters Jun 6, 2024 | 9:49 AM

(Reuters) – The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on Ecuadorean crime gang Los Lobos and its leader, the Treasury Department said in a statement.

Los Lobos, led by Wilmer Geovanny Chavarria Barre, known by his alias Pipo, has emerged as Ecuador’s largest drug trafficking organization and contributes significantly to the violence gripping the country, the statement said.

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.

The violence made international headlines in January when gunmen invaded a television station during a live broadcast and there was a mass hostage-taking of prison guards.

The United States in February sanctioned another major Ecuadorean gang, Los Choneros.

Los Lobos has thousands of members and began as a gang of hitmen working under Los Choneros, the Treasury statement said.

Los Lobos provides security for Mexico’s Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartel along its cocaine trafficking routes and is accused of orchestrating the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio last year, Treasury said.

(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb)