A notorious Ecuadorian gang leader was arrested living in a luxurious two-story cell that included his own living room and a flat-screen television.
The leader of Los Lobos, Álvaro ‘Palanqueta’ Montaño, enjoyed his stay in the Turi maximum security prison, in the southern city of Azuay, reconfiguring his home with five bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bathroom.
He slept in the comfort of a queen-sized bed in one of the bedrooms and kept up with his favorite programming by mounting a flat-screen TV on a wall.
The cell also had new sofas, a dining table with chairs, lamps, and a painting of a wolf on one of the walls.
And even though Christmas had already passed, the feared gang leader was still in a festive mood and had a fully decorated Christmas tree in the corner.
An Ecuadorian soldier inspects the cell of Los Lobos leader Álvaro ‘Palanqueta’ Montaño at the Turi maximum security prison in the southern city of Azuay. Montaño spent his time in a two-story cell that had five rooms, a living room, and a kitchen.
Álvaro Montaño requested to serve the remaining time of his sentence in house confinement, arguing that his health was deteriorating due to ‘wounds that have resulted from torture and beatings by the uniformed men.’
The shocking discovery was revealed by the Ecuadorian Armed Forces on Wednesday, just five days after Montaño and three other Los Lobos leaders were transferred from Turi to the famous El Litoral penitentiary in Guayaquil, where 119 prisoners were massacred in 2021.
As he and his gang ran amok in Turi prison, Montaño filed a habeas corpus petition on Jan. 22 in hopes of serving the remainder of his prison sentence under home confinement.
His defense claimed that his health was deteriorating due to ‘injuries resulting from torture and beatings by uniformed officers.’
Montaño’s prison transfer is part of the Ecuadorian government’s crackdown on gangs and a 60-day state of emergency that has given the military permission to conduct operations inside prisons.
The leader of Los Lobos, Álvaro Montaño, maintained his Christmas spirit with a fully decorated artificial tree inside his cell, which also had a flat-screen television and a new sofa.
Ecuador’s military on Wednesday revealed the two-story cell of Los Lobos leader Álvaro Montaño, which was reconfigured with five rooms.
Los Lobos is the second largest criminal organization in Ecuador and has around 8,000 members.
The gang’s influence in the prison system grew, police estimated, between 2021 and 2023, when its leaders were imprisoned in 10 prisons.
The group is linked to the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel, one of the two most powerful drug cartels in Mexico, and is also involved in human trafficking and illegal mining.
“The main source of income for the Lobos comes from the transfer of cocaine shipments for Colombian and Mexican groups that move the merchandise through Ecuador,” according to the organized crime study center Insight Crime.
Los Choneros, considered the second most powerful criminal structure in the South American country, was sanctioned this Wednesday by the United States Department of the Treasury.
Álvaro ‘Palanqueta’ Montaño was transferred last Friday to the El Litoral prison, in Guayaquil, where 119 prisoners were massacred in a riot between rival gangs in 2021
Photograph released by the Ecuadorian Armed Forces showing José ‘Fito’ Macías, leader of the criminal gang Los Choneros, while being transferred to the maximum security complex The Rock inside the Zonal Penitentiary No 8 in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on 12 August 2023. Macías is said to have fled from prison guards who accompanied him to a doctor’s visit on December 25.
Authorities accused the gang of trafficking drugs in Ecuador since the 1990s and have been blamed for fueling violence in the country since 2020.
Los Choneros, whose leader Alfonso ‘Fito’ Macías has been missing since January 7, have also been linked to extortion and murder.
The US Treasury Department accuses him of controlling Ecuador’s overcrowded, crime-ridden prisons.
“Drug trafficking gangs like Los Choneros, many of them with ties to powerful drug cartels in Mexico, threaten the lives and livelihoods of communities in Ecuador and throughout the region,” the Undersecretary of Terrorism said in the statement. and Treasury Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson. .