He leads a notorious cartel – until recently from prison. Since his escape, a wave of violence has rocked the country. Who is Jose Adolfo Macias Villamar?
For José Adolfo Macías Villamar, controlling the drug trade, terrorizing people and murdering politicians is not enough. A cartel boss known as Fito wants to embarrass the Ecuadorian government.
This was evident last September when two older men and Fito's daughter released the ballad “Corrido del Leon” about drug lord Michelle. Accordion, guitar, snappy rhythm – and lyrics. Fito is a “boss of bosses” and a “good man”. Scandal: The drug lord appears in the video, despite being imprisoned in the port city of Guayaquil at the time after serving a 34-year sentence for drug trafficking.
The extravagantly produced music video shows Fito frolicking with colleagues in a prison yard, hugging a rooster and posing in front of large murals. It was apparently easy for Fito to smuggle Hahn, the video crew and equipment into the prison. The video was an embarrassment to the Ecuadorian government and a demonstration of criminal power. Everyone could see that the cartels had taken control of many prisons.
In light of this, it is no surprise that last Sunday the cartel boss once again exposed the Ecuadorian government. Fito escaped from jail hours before the scheduled raid. No one wants to see the leader of the dreaded Sonero cartel. Corrupt prison guards may have opened the cell door for him and taken him to freedom.
Since Fito's escape, a wave of violence has rocked the South American country (read here Q&A about being in Ecuador) The state of Ecuador is doing everything it can to capture the broad-shouldered mobsters. 3,000 policemen and soldiers are searching for him even in the sewers below the prison.
This is not the first time a hardened criminal has escaped. In February 2013, he once escaped from a high-security prison on a boat. He was arrested again three months later.
Since last August, Fito has been considered the most dangerous man in Ecuador. At that time, the presidential candidate, Fernando Villavicencio, was gunned down in the street by foreign mercenaries. Investigators suspect that Fito ordered the killing of Villavicencio, who had declared war on drug cartels (read here, Why was Villavicencio killed?)
Not much is known about the drug lord's life. Fito (44) was born in Manta, a medium-sized town on the Pacific coast. He became a criminal at an early age. According to the Ecuadorian judiciary, he has been charged at least 30 times, including robbery, murder and manslaughter.
Colleagues were shot
He soon made a career of working for Soneros, Ecuador's most notorious drug cartel. After its leader was murdered in 2020, Fito initially assumed leadership of the gang with a certain Junior Roldan. Roldan was shot in May last year and since then Fito has been the only leader to be sung “boss of bosses”.
He organized the business from prison before his escape, which didn't bother him. On the one hand, behind bars he is relatively safe from rival drug dealers. On the other hand, the main characters of Soneros live the good life in prison with drugs, parties and comfortably furnished lounges.
This is made possible by a thriving prison smuggling industry. If something is missing, it is sometimes flown in by a drone. “Prisons are cities where prisoners are in charge,” a police officer who worked in Fito's prison, among other places, told El Pais.
Most people can't wait for Fito to be caught – dead or alive. “Prepare the song for his funeral,” someone commented on a YouTube video for “Corrido del Leon.”
Simon Whitmer Since 2019, he has been a journalist in the international section of the Tmedia editorial board. He previously worked for the SonntagsZeitung. Wittmer studied political science and economics at the University of Bern.More info@WidmerSimon