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Ecuador charges 13 people arrested for breaking into TV studio during broadcast with terrorism

Police and soldiers prepare to enter El Inca prison where riots began, in Quito, Ecuador, Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

Riots began at El Inca prison in Quito, Ecuador, prompting police and soldiers to prepare to enter the facility. This came a day after authorities reported that Los Choneros gang leader Adolfo Macías, also known as "Fito," was not in his cell at a different prison in Guayaquil. Thirteen individuals who broke into a TV studio during a live broadcast will be charged with terrorism, according to Ecuador's attorney general's office.

Masked intruders armed with guns and explosives stormed the set of the TC Television network in Guayaquil during a live news program, leading President Daniel Noboa to declare an "internal armed conflict" in the country. The incident was broadcast live, with the station's signal being cut off after about 15 minutes. The gunmen were later arrested by authorities.

In the wake of Macías' apparent escape from prison, Ecuador has experienced a series of attacks, including the abductions of several police officers. President Noboa declared a national state of emergency, authorizing the military to "neutralize" 20 drug trafficking gangs within the bounds of international humanitarian law.

The Los Choneros gang, which is linked to Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, is considered responsible for the spike in violence and drug trafficking in Ecuador. Macías, who was convicted of drug trafficking, murder, and organized crime, was serving a 34-year sentence in La Regional prison in Guayaquil. He was believed to be controlling his group from within the detention facility.

The situation has led to widespread concern and the government's commitment to confront crime and restore peace in the country. A state of emergency has been widely used to address the wave of violence affecting Ecuador. The whereabouts of Macías remain unknown, as authorities continue to investigate his alleged escape.

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