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OFAC Sanctions Ecuadorian Criminal Gang, Leader

The Office of Foreign Assets Control this week sanctioned an Ecuadorian gang and its leader for their ties to drug trafficking and violence.

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The designations target Los Choneros gang and José Adolfo Macías Villamar, who founded the group and helped it become one of Ecuador's “most violent criminal organizations,” OFAC said. Macías Villamar was sentenced to 34 years in prison in 2011, but OFAC said he escaped from his cell in January, just before he was scheduled to be moved to a maximum-security facility. After his escape, the Ecuadorian government declared a state of emergency in response, which “sparked additional prison riots and gang attacks across the country, including kidnappings and bombings.”