High-level US officials to visit Ecuador on crime fight
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High-level US officials to visit Ecuador on crime fight

A top US military officer and senior officials will travel to Ecuador to bolster President Daniel Noboa’s fight against criminal gangs that have wreaked havoc, the State Department said Thursday. General Laura Richardson, head of the US Southern Command, and civilian officials will visit in the coming weeks “to explore with Ecuadoran counterparts ways we can work together more effectively to confront the threat posed by transnational criminal organizations,” the State Department said. The civilian officials will include Todd Robinson, the assistant secretary of state in charge of fighting narcotics. The United States will expand intelligence sharing, including in cyber activity, and look for ways to hold criminals accountable, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. He said the US officials will also discuss reforms of Ecuador’s prisons, which have seen repeated sieges as inmates belonging to organized crime groups take control. Noboa has vowed “war” with 22 criminal gangs to restore security to the country. A curfew is in place and troops are patrolling the streets and conducting random searches. Miller called the levels of violence in Ecuador “appalling.” “The United States condemns these attacks and the criminals responsible,” he said in the statement. “We will work with President Noboa to deepen our law enforcement cooperation through US security assistance programs.”

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