Postcard from Quito: How drug gangs are destroying Ecuador

A wave of crime and kidnapping has increased murder rates five-fold in a country that was until recently a haven of peace. Dan Collyns speaks to those affected.

The World Today Updated 20 December 2023 Published 1 December 2023 3 minute READ

Dan Collyns

British journalist covering Latin America, Freelance

It was 5 August when Jenny Bohórquez, 43, and her 12-year-old son Danny left Ecuador to make the journey north after an extortion gang threatened to kill them both for reporting its protection racket to the police.

Their new home is more than 2,800 miles away in Passaic, New Jersey, where she stays with cousins and works as a manicurist at a beauty parlour for mostly Latino clients while she tries to learn English.

Escaping to the relative peace of New Jersey took a perilous six-day crossing on foot of the Darién Gap between Colombia and Panama, then more than a week travelling to the Mexican border and crossing the Rio Grande into Texas.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.