Four bullet holes in two metal doors of a house forced the closure of a commercial premises on Pedro Lino Campesan streets between Ramón Chiriboga and Néstor Barahona in the center of San Lorenzo del Pailón on the northern border of Esmeraldas.
The attack happened on the night of August 30th by two men on a motorcycle. It happened almost a block away from the county police headquarters and the home of a former mayor.
Merchants of this city associate this fact with criminals who have committed themselves to extortion through text messages or phone calls. “They pose as criminals from Colombia’s irregular armed groups (GIA), but they are known to be from San Lorenzo,” says a shopkeeper.
The amounts of money they are asking range from $5,000 and some have agreed to pay monthly as they threaten to attack close relatives.
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A man says he received text messages in which the suspected criminals tell him: “What happened friend, we are waiting for you with cooperation (money), what are we asking for and that you have to deliver it where we are going for you.” accept.”
If they don’t reach the target, the criminals steal money and belongings, as happened on August 28 at a grocery store near the municipality of San Lorenzo.
These incidents have forced vendors and merchants to migrate. There are formal shops that are gradually closing.
Dealers have filed about 10 complaints of threats, intimidation, robbery and extortion with prosecutors.
The San Lorenzo Judicial Police have received several complaints from the district police command of that canton, according to Juan Espín, which are currently being processed.
On the 20th of last month, five people were arrested, including a woman, implicated in business robberies, reception and trafficking of controlled substances in the Las Carlotas sector.
“San Lorenzo has three exit routes, by sea to Mataje or by road that connects to Lita or Esmeraldas,” said a concerned merchant, commenting on how fragile the border is for criminals to enter.
According to the San Lorenzo police report, there have been a total of 36 violent deaths as of last August. One of those killed was a 12-year-old minor who, according to video from home cameras, tried to attack with a knife and then a gun.
Gunman arrived at the hardware store in Esmeraldas, asked for the boss and since he couldn’t find him, he shot employees.
A relative of Mayor Glenn Arroyo was also the victim of an attack earlier this year.
Traders are calling for an increased police and military presence with operations in this border area.
The canton of San Lorenzo del Pailón has been in the crosshairs for a number of events in recent years, including the attack on the police station and the kidnapping and murder of three members of the newspaper Act in the border area.
Crime such as drug trafficking, sale and illegal transportation of fuel, chemical precursors, firearms and ammunition create problems in this area.
Sale of petrol in bulk in shops and on the E15 highway north of Borbón – San Lorenzo and towards Ibarra is common. A gas saleswoman says she does it because car quotas are limited and gas stations in San Lorenzo close early after being robbed.
Last August, the armed forces and police confiscated 78 gas tanks for domestic use in the Corriente Larga sector. In Borbón, Eloy Alfaro confiscated about three thousand gallons of gasoline and acetone. Seven people were arrested for this crime.
Residents say various problems of crime and insecurity are related to precarious living conditions, limited sources of work and lack of work to improve living conditions.
Residents of Mataje Alto asked Esmeraldas Prefecture to improve 13 kilometers from Y del Pan to Mataje because the entrance was difficult due to the constant rains, says Orlando Pai García, president of that municipality.
From Infrastructure Via del Gad they replied that the project was pending but would be postponed until next year for security and budget reasons.
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Another leader, Silvio Chirimía, points out that they also lack electricity, drinking water, internet and healthcare, so they have to go to San Lorenzo or Ibarra for medical attention.
San Lorenzo authorities held two marches for peace and security. In the last mobilization, eleven applications were made which, according to the commercial sector, have not materialized. (yo)