caso Metástasis
Foto: Tomada de Primicias.

The Metastasis case, which shook Ecuador in December 2023, revealed an alleged criminal structure infiltrated within various state institutions. Furthermore, it exposed how narcopolitics operates in the country, involving police agents and judges.

The «Metastasis» case, led by the Attorney General’s Office, revealed the largest corruption network within Ecuador’s judicial system, involving public officials, politicians, prosecutors, and drug traffickers.

Read: Kidnappings and extortions undermine democracy in Ecuador

The «Metastasis» case was triggered in December 2023 following a widespread national operation that led to the arrest of former judicial officials, prison officers, businessmen, lawyers, security force members, and criminal leaders, among others, for their alleged involvement in a corruption and drug trafficking network.

In early March 2014, another case named «Purge» was revealed, identified by the Attorney General’s Office as a direct continuation of the «Metastasis» case aimed at further purging and cleaning corrupt institutions in the country.

How did the Metastasis case arise?

The Metastasis case focuses on Leandro Norero, alias ‘El Patrón’, a suspected drug trafficker and money launderer murdered in prison in 2022. Following his death, indications emerged of a criminal network operating to favor him, severely affecting state institutions.

Furthermore, it has led to the investigation and prosecution of 52 individuals to date, while the Purga case involves 12 individuals. Several accused have been implicated in receiving bribes and benefits in exchange for manipulating judicial processes and granting prison privileges.

Political ties

Former President Rafael Correa has been mentioned in relation to Norero, according to testimonies from key witnesses in the National Court of Justice.

Revelations during the hearing on March 28 included statements from Marcelo Laso, who claimed that Norero communicated with individuals prosecuted in the Metastasis case, including Rafael Correa, about judicial matters.

On the other hand, Mayra Salazar, a 35-year-old communicator and public relations officer at the Provincial Court of Guayas, admitted to collaborating with Norero to influence judges in their judicial rulings.

However, according to conversations revealed by the Attorney General’s Office, the woman had a close relationship with Norero. She admitted to working for him, handling tasks such as facilitating contacts with judges and judicial officials in exchange for illegal favors.

However, her reach did not stop there. After her arrest, the Attorney General’s Office analyzed her phone and uncovered a series of revelations: her messages marked the start of the Purga case. The woman had ties with politicians from different factions, as well as judges. She was also linked to leaders and members of criminal organizations.

Latest revelations 52 implicated in the Metastasis case. At least 80% of the defendants are lawyers. The Attorney General’s Office revealed the Purga and Plaga cases, which are continuations.

The Metastasis case, furthermore, confirmed several suspicions. Los Lobos, one of the organizations financially supported by Norero, was involved in the escalation of violence and the security crisis affecting the country.

Measures taken by Daniel Novoa, President of Ecuador

To combat corruption, the government announced the creation of a financial crimes investigation unit and proposed a constitutional amendment that will be put to a referendum vote on April 21, aiming to close legal loopholes that allow criminals to obstruct their judicial processes.

Despite these measures, governmental corruption remains a significant challenge for Ecuador and its efforts against organized crime.


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