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Chen Mechan and 400 Mawozo Gang Confrontations and Ecuadorian Provincial States of Emergency

April 28-May 04, 2022 | Issue 6 - SOUTHCOM

Jan García, Maria Ruehl, Daniel Ruiz, SOUTHCOM Team

Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff



Map of Haiti[1]



Date: April 28, 2022

Location: Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Parties involved: Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry; Haitian Government; Haitian law enforcement; Haitian citizens; Chen Mechan Gang; 400 Mawozo Gang; The Red Cross

The event: On Thursday, April 28, confrontations between the Haitian criminal gangs of Chen Mechan and the 400 Mawozo occurred in Port au Prince. At least 20 people were killed and thousands fled their homes for safety, leaving them without access to basic resources. Since Prime Minister Ariel Henry became acting president after the assassination of the former president in July 2021, increased violence has broken out. This has resulted in a political and governmental crisis in the country where Henry’s administration is unable to organize elections due to insecurity. This violence has been seen through increased kidnappings, fires, shootings, and forced displacement of families.[2] A lack of authority, together with understaffed and underfunded police departments, has allowed for a major decrease in national security since the fighting began.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Further Chen Mechan and 400 Mawozo Gang confrontations will very likely increase the feelings of unrest and insecurity among Haitian citizens, who will very likely continue to face resource scarcity, such as water, food, and shelter. NGOs, such as the Red Cross, will very likely increase their deployment to cover citizens’ basic needs. Criminal gangs will likely obstruct humanitarian aid by cutting off entrance routes in big cities, very likely putting citizens at higher risk. Increased tensions between criminal gangs will very likely result in injuries and kidnappings of humanitarian aid workers deployed in Haiti.

  • Gangs fighting within Haiti will almost certainly result in increased citizen displacement as the situation worsens. Displaced citizens will likely travel to less populated rural areas to flee gang violence in the city, likely causing Haitian cities to have a reduced workforce to stabilize the economy. Haitian citizens will likely attempt to flee to nearby countries such as the Dominican Republic, which will likely negatively impact Haiti’s diplomatic relations with this government. Haitian citizens migrating here will likely face difficulties as a result of the ongoing ethnic and cultural differences.

  • The power struggle for the Haitian Presidential office and the inefficient law enforcement will likely strengthen the Haitian gangs, and enable them to expand into new territories, and increase criminal activities. Haitian police forces will likely be unable to guarantee national security and stability due to the low resources available for law enforcement, such as funds and officers. Underfunded and understaffed Haitian police will likely contribute to a rise in criminal activity not related to gangs, such as theft and assaults. Increased insecurity will likely impede the implementation of public policies aimed at improving the socio-economic conditions of Haitians, as the government will very likely be focused on security issues.


Date: April 30, 2022

Location: Guayas, Manabi, and Esmeraldas Provinces, Ecuador

Parties involved: Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso; Ecuadorian Government; Ecuadorian law enforcement; Ecuadorian Constitutional Court; Ecuadorian citizens; Drug trafficking gangs; Mexican drug cartels; Frente Oliver Sinisterra; the FARC; United States; Europe; Colombia; Peru

The event: On Friday, April 30, because of increased drug trafficking and gang violence, President Lasso declared a 60-day state of exception. This allows the imposition of curfews and deployment of 4,000 police officers and 5,000 armed forces members, in the Guayas, Manabi, and Esmeraldas Provinces. Ecuador is used by gangs as a transit point for exporting narcotics to the United States and Europe, increasing violence in these provinces.[4] This two-month state of emergency will affect highly populated cities, such as Duran. This is the second time the president has done this.[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The state of emergency is not likely to change the nature of Ecuador as a key drug trafficking hotspot in the long term, but it will likely stabilize security conditions in the affected provinces in the short term. Ecuador will likely remain a strategic point for trafficking due to its geographic location, especially in areas that have access to the Pacific Ocean, as drugs are likely to be trafficked to other countries by maritime means of transport such as speedboats, narco-submarines, and ships. Border security in Ecuadorian ports will likely increase to avoid the smuggling of illegal goods to the country as well as to investigate drug routes and gangs.

  • The reimplementation of the state of emergency will likely increase social grievances with President Lasso, who will very likely be held accountable for declining living standards in the country because of the restrictive measures. Ecuadorian citizens will likely oppose the state of emergency if this measure is not solving insecurity issues in the country. Ecuadorian citizens will likely organize protests demanding the ending of the state of emergency and intensified governmental action, with criminal gangs likely targeting such demonstrations.

  • Ecuador is very likely facing drug gang violence because its surrounding countries of Colombia and Peru are larger drug producers. Violence in Ecuador will likely escalate due to the presence of criminal organizations from neighboring countries, such as the Frente Oliver Sinisterra attached to the dissidents of the FARC guerrillas. Drugs will likely continue to smuggle into the country due to weak borders. The loss of economic resources due to corruption in the Ecuadorian government will likely increase gang violence in the country, mainly in coastal provinces' where crime is more likely.

  • A rise in criminal activity in the Esmeraldas, Manabi, and Guayas Provinces will likely spread to other provinces. Criminal organizations are likely seeking to expand into other provinces to find new routes for cocaine shipments, facilitate the logistics of their criminal operations and seek new safe havens within the country. The spread of drug trafficking and gang violence in Ecuador will very likely lead to increased loss of life and will likely decrease the Ecuadorian government’s chances of solving this crime in the country.

________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[1] In worsening gang fighting in Haiti, 20 dead, thousands displaced, by Jan García, via Map Chart

[2] In worsening gang fighting in Haiti, 20 dead, thousands displaced, Al Jazeera, April 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/4/28/in-worsening-gang-fighting-in-haiti-20-dead-thousands-displaced

[3] Haitians struggle to find food, shelter amind new gang battle, ABC News, May 2022, https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/20-dead-thousands-flee-homes-gangs-battle-haiti-84362135

[4] Ecuador declares emergency in three provinces over drug violence, Al Jazeera, April 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/4/30/ecuador-declares-emergency-in-three-provinces-over-drug-violence

[5] Ecuador declares emergency over gang crime, BBC News, April 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-61281422

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