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Ecuador detains 12 people, including judges, in organized crime investigation

QUITO (Reuters) -Ecuador’s attorney general’s office said on Monday 12 more people, including judges, have been detained in a sprawling organized crime investigation in Guayas province.

The arrests are part of the so-called “Metastasis” investigation, which already saw judicial staffers and others detained in December.

Ecuador is facing a huge spikes in violence which authorities blame on drug trafficking gangs. President Daniel Noboa, who took office in November, has declared 22 gangs terrorist groups and said the country is at war.

The case is “a demonstration of how corruption is generated from the high spheres of legislative politics, putting the administration of justice in one of the most influential provinces of the country at their disposition and obviously at the disposition of drug traffickers,” Attorney General Diana Salazar said in a video.

Among those arrested was Maria Fabiola G. R., the former president of Guayas’ court of justice, the prosecutor’s office said in a series of posts on social media early on Monday.

The office does not typically release full names of those arrested or charged.

A former politician, his wife and at least six other judges were also arrested, and the office and home of the current head of the provincial justice court were searched, the attorney general’s office said.

Among those detained in December were the head of the country’s judicial regulator and homes belonging to judges, prosecutors and police officers were raided.

Salazar has said the investigation started after the 2022 prison murder of accused money launderer Leandro Norero.

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