Ecuador locked up a drug lord. He just released a music video from jail.

The professional-quality music video appears and sounds very like a conventional Mexican ballad. A lady rides a horse throughout a discipline whereas two males in Tejana hats croon to accordion music about a “man of good honor.”

Then the star seems: One of Ecuador’s most feared drug lords — posing for the digital camera within the nation’s most infamous jail.

The video, apparently filmed contained in the Guayaquil jail and posted on YouTube over the weekend, pays homage to José Adolfo “Fito” Macías Villamar, a convicted assassin who has helped lead Los Choneros — a gang that reportedly companions with the Sinaloa Cartel to maneuver cocaine to the United States.

Mariachi Bravo’s “El Corrido del León” — “The Lion’s Ballad” taunts a authorities that has proved incapable of seizing management of its prisons again from the more and more highly effective gangs. With a high-production-value video recorded partially in a facility that holds Ecuador’s most harmful convicts, the criminals are sending a clear message about who’s in cost.

“Es el jefe y patrón, señores,” the boys sing. He’s the boss.

By Monday night, it had racked up greater than 150,000 views.

Just weeks in the past, in an tried present of power, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso despatched 1000’s of safety personnel into the Guayaquil jail to switch Fito to a maximum-security jail. “Ecuador will recover peace and security,” Lasso posted on X, the platform previously often called Twitter.

Then, earlier this month, a decide licensed Fito’s return to the regional jail. A drone carrying explosives landed on the roof of the maximum-security facility. And on Friday evening, Fito appeared within the ward patio of the regional jail, beside murals bearing his title. At one level he was recorded stroking a rooster within the jail, flashing a large gold ring. His daughter, a musician who goes by Queen Michelle, sings about her father, describing him as a household man.

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Journalists questioned how, in a jail system that not often grants entry to digital camera operators, a video crew was capable of movie its most distinguished inmate. Prison authorities haven’t supplied a proof.

The video was extra proof of the gangs’ management of a jail system that has suffered file ranges of violence between competing drug-trafficking teams. Hundreds of inmates have been killed in bloody battles prior to now two years. Gangs are identified to smuggle in medication, cellphones, weapons and grenades, explosive gadgets they use to blow holes by partitions. Prison guards have reportedly stood exterior jail partitions whereas combatants have beheaded and dismembered enemies.

It shouldn’t be stunning, then, Ecuadorian lawyer and professor David Cordero-Heredia says, that the gangs are able to bringing in a digital camera crew to movie a music video. Cordero-Heredia research the jail system.

“It’s impossible that these types of things could happen without the intervention of state forces,” Cordero-Heredia stated. But releasing the video on social media, he stated, exhibits the gangs not really feel the necessity to act in secrecy.

It’s the type of daring mockery seen by distinguished drug lords in many years previous in Colombia and Mexico.

“We’ve heard narcocorridos that are Mexican or Colombian, but never Ecuadorian,” stated Christian Palacios, a human rights advocate and researcher who focuses on Ecuador’s jail system. “This is normalizing crime and showing, in a public way, that it’s possible to triumph being a delinquent.”

In Mexico, the ballads often called narcocorridos — a coinage that mixes the Spanish phrases for “drug lord” and “running” — have lengthy celebrated the exploits of Robin Hood-styled outlaws and their battles with regulation enforcement. Some Mexican states have banned them from being performed in public areas. Similar songs about drug traffickers and guerrillas will be heard blasting from audio system in bars in sure rural elements of Colombia, the place they’re often called corridos prohibidos — prohibited ballads.

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The style’s arrival in Ecuador would possibly replicate the rising affect of the Mexican cartels which can be more and more working with native gangs to compete for management of drug routes within the nation. Ecuador, sandwiched between the world’s two greatest coca producers, Colombia and Peru, has emerged as a key transit nation for cocaine flowing to the United States and Europe — and a battleground for drug traffickers and gangs, who’ve introduced file ranges of violence to what was as soon as seen as a comparatively protected haven within the area.

The violence reached into the very best ranges of politics when a presidential candidate, Fernando Villavicencio, was assassinated just days before the first round of voting. Shortly earlier than his demise, Villavicencio had denounced a demise menace he stated he had obtained from somebody who claimed to have ties to Fito.

The gang preventing inside and out of doors of the prisons have left the Choneros, as soon as thought of the nation’s strongest legal group, fragmented and its management weakened, in keeping with assume tank InSight Crime. But Fito and his allies nonetheless management a massive portion of the Guayaquil jail.

Shortly after Lasso proudly introduced Fito’s switch to the maximum-security La Roca jail final month, inmates in Guayaquil climbed to the rooftop and staged a protest. Long after the demonstration ended, a signal nonetheless hung from a tower: “We want Fito back.”

Within weeks, he had returned.

Diana Durán contributed to this report.

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