Argentina expels family of Ecuadoran fugitive 'Fito': officials

Argentina expels family of Ecuadoran fugitive ‘Fito’: officials

/ 02:43 AM January 20, 2024

Argentina's Minister of Security Bullrich holds a press conference, in Buenos Aires

Argentinian officials watch a video of the deportation of the relatives of Ecuadorian criminal Jose Adolfo Macias Villamar, alias Fito, after their detention, during a press conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, January 19, 2024. REUTERS/Martin Cossarini

Buenos Aires, Argentina — Argentina on Friday expelled the wife and children of Ecuadoran fugitive Adolfo Macias, the drug lord known as “Fito,” as a manhunt for the gangster continued.

After the leader of the feared Los Choneros gang escaped this month from a prison in Guayaquil, a horrific spate of gang violence erupted in Ecuador, prompting President Daniel Noboa to declare a “state of war.”


Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich said on Friday that Fito’s family members were rounded up in an upscale neighborhood in the province of Cordoba. She did not say on what grounds they were held.


But Cordoba official Juan Pablo Quinteros said the family’s temporary residence permit had been canceled via a “migration resolution” that allowed the authorities “to detain them and expel them from the country.”

Interior Minister Guillermo Francos, speaking at a news conference with Quinteros and Bullrich, added: “Argentina will not be a den for criminals.”

According to Bullrich, Fito’s wife Inda Mariela Penarrieta, 48, moved into the neighborhood on January 5 — days before her husband’s prison break — with three children aged four to 21 and other members of the gangster’s “clan.”

On Friday the family was placed on an air force plane, Bullrich said.

Argentine police provided images of them boarding a plane.

Hours later, AFP journalists witnessed the plane land at Guayaquil airport.


Ecuadoran President Noboa told Colombia’s W Radio on Friday that the authorities were searching for Fito “everywhere.”

He said he had asked his Colombian counterpart Gustavo Petro “to conduct an intensive search” in that country as well.

Ecuador, once considered a bastion of peace in Latin America, has been plunged into crisis by the rapid spread of transnational cartels that use its ports to ship drugs to the United States and Europe.

In response to Fito’s escape, Noboa last week imposed a state of emergency and nightly curfew.

Drug cartels reacted by threatening to execute civilians and security forces and taking hostage dozens of police and prison officials, who have since been released.

READ: Ecuador TV studio attacked by armed men during live broadcast

They set off explosives, burned cars and, on January 9, stormed a television station and fired shots in an attack that was broadcast live.

The prosecutor investigating that attack was shot dead Wednesday, and two suspects are in custody.

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“We have a war to fight, and a very battered nation to recover,” Noboa said Friday.

TAGS: Argentina, Ecuador

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