Armed Men Take Over Live Television Studio In Ecuador

As the Ecuadorian government cracks down on armed gangs across the country, a group of criminals was recently seen holding individuals hostage in a live television studio in Ecuador while calling for law enforcement to refrain from prosecuting violent criminal organizations.

The armed criminals wore balaclavas while yelling “no police!” at cameras and firing gunshots shortly before the television feed ceased.

Ecuadorian police later arrived at the studio in the city of Guayaquil and arrested 13 of the criminals. On the law enforcement’s social media account, pictures of the armed men with their hands zip-tied behind their backs were posted.

National Police Commander César Zapata said officials recovered grenades and other explosives at the scene, adding that the assailants would face charges for “acts of terrorism.”

As part of his plan to eradicate notorious gangs, Ecuadorian President Daniel Nooba previously issued a decree identifying 22 gangs in the country as terrorist organizations shortly after an uptick in police kidnappings.

Ecuadorian reporter Leonardo Flores Moreno told Reuters that the armed men left dynamite at another broadcasting facility before heading to the live television studio.

“We were in a meeting and they alerted us and we were able to hide,” Flores told the outlet. “We don’t know what is happening, people are nervous, there are many colleagues… who are hiding.”

Another reporter said that the armed men shot one individual, but police have yet to confirm such a report.

Ecuador’s former defense minister, Luis Hernández, told the Associated Press (AP) that the recent events at the television studio show that gangs across the country “perceived the state’s weakness” and that they could pursue worse actions “to terrorize the state and send it into a state of panic.”

Ecuador has been subjected to heavy levels of violent crime, which Nooba blames on criminal gangs. The Ecuadorian president assumed office in November 2023 and pledged to crack down on drug trade-related violence, according to the Blaze.

Following the recent incident, Nooba declared a state of emergency and ordered a curfew, which allows law enforcement to enter homes without a court order. The decree also allows Ecuador’s armed forces to carry out military operations to eradicate criminal gangs.