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Body of Ecuadorean crime boss stolen from Colombian cemetery

After no one claimed the body, it was buried in a cemetery in Envigado on the outskirts of Medellin, Colombia's second city, on May 18.

The body of Ecuadorean fugitive Junior Roldan was illegally exhumed from a Colombian graveyard, police said Wednesday, months after the former Los Choneros drug gang boss was buried.

Roldan, who went by the alias JR, was accused of several attacks and murders in Ecuador’s prisons.

More than 430 inmates have died violently since 2021, dozens of them dismembered and incinerated in disputes between rival gangs linked to Colombian and Mexican cartels.

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Roldan’s body disappeared from the vault where he was buried in May, local police told AFP Wednesday.

Roldan was released from a prison in the Ecuadorean port city of Guayaquil — a hub for several drug gangs — in February 2023 and was granted parole, a decision criticized by President Guillermo Lasso.

He was wounded in an armed attack in March, after which prison authorities lost track of him.

Colombian authorities found his body shot in the head in a rural area in the country’s northwest two months later.

After no one claimed the body, it was buried in a cemetery in Envigado on the outskirts of Medellin, Colombia’s second city, on May 18.

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There are more than 13 organised crime groups operating in Ecuador, officials say, the oldest and most powerful of which is Los Choneros.

Following the murder of Los Choneros leader Jorge Luis Zambrano in 2020, the gang reportedly split into several factions.

Roldan, Zambrano’s former lieutenant, became part of the Las Aguilas gang, while Adolfo Macias, also known as Fito, began commanding the Los Fatales group.

Macias, imprisoned since 2011, was transferred to a maximum security jail last month soon after the murder of presidential hopeful Fernando Villavicencio, who was shot by Colombian hitmen days before the first round of voting.

The politician had previously said that the drug lord had threatened to kill him.

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Macias’ transfer was reversed this week by the courts, just over a month before Ecuador’s presidential run-off on October 15.

Suffocated by drug violence, Ecuador is facing a surge in gang-related homicides, extortion, kidnapping and drug trafficking.

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