Author Biography

Jorge is a political scientist, who holds Ph.D. in Criminology Law and Justice from UIC Chicago. He has worked as a practitioner and analyst with public agencies and international organizations on topics related to armed conflict, public safety, and drug policy. His current interests are criminal governance, proxy wars, and organized violence.

Carolina Andrade Quevedo holds a Master's Degree in Political Science, with a concentration in Public Affairs from the Panthéon-Sorbonne University. She has more than twelve years of leadership experience in Public and State Security, as well as Strategic Intelligence. Between 2018-2020, she served as a regional adviser to the United Nations on peace and security, climate action, women in power, and global governance. In this framework, Carolina conducted field research in Africa and the Middle East and accompanied diplomatic negotiations in the Americas. Recently, she acted as a regional advisor for the Climate and Security Program of the Igarapé Institute. Currently, Carolina is Secretary of Security of Quito.

María Fe Vallejo holds a double major in Political Science and International Relations from Universidad San Francisco de Quito. She has conducted research at the Climate and Security Program at Igarapé Institute. Currently, she is a Research Assistant at FARO, an ecuadorian research center, in the Democracy, Transparency and Active Citizenship Area.



Subject Area Keywords

Armed groups, Latin America, Narcotics trafficking, Security studies


Compared to other countries in Latin America, Ecuador was traditionally considered a peaceful territory. However, 2022 was the most violent year in the history of Ecuador with a homicide rate of 25.6. In particular, the littoral city of Guayaquil (46.6) poses extraordinary challenges to Ecuadorian security agencies while criminal governance and firepower of criminal armed groups increased steadily in the past four years. This paper explores the relationship between ports, violence, and governance in the context of criminal wars. Through a process-tracing method, it studies the path through which Guayaquil ended up in a security crisis between 2018 and 2022. Using in-depth interviews, criminal justice data, and direct observations, we argue the relations between states and communities can dramatically change under the perception of state weakness despite the implementation of iron fist approaches as exceptional public safety measures.