The Cessna-type plane landed on the night of January 8 at the Isabela Island airport, from which it disappeared last Monday. COURTESY
Case of the Galapagos plane: order prohibits six police officers from leaving the country
These officers guarded the aerial vehicle. They were also ordered to appear before the judge once a week; a hearing has taken place.
Updated 03/24/2021 18:13
Doubts remain surrounding the mysterious disappearance of the plane – allegedly linked to illicit operations – which was abandoned on Isabela Island, Galapagos, and which had been in police custody since January 8.
Last March 19, the delegation of the Ombudsman’s Office in Galapagos formally asked the prosecutor in charge of the case, Jhomary Chuncho, to certify whether, to date, a prosecutor’s investigation file has been opened, “because there are elements that would constitute violations ”of a legal and constitutional nature.
According to the official letter sent by the delegate, Milton Castillo, “from the direct inquiries that we have made to officials of the Santa Cruz Prosecutor’s Office, they indicate that they are not aware of any open case filing.”
For the basis of his request, Castillo relies on the police report prepared by Captain William Albán regarding the events that occurred on the night of January 8 at the Isabela airport; [this report] is in the files of the Judicial Police of the Canton of Galapagos.
EXPRESO sought a statement from Chuncho and Albán on this matter, but neither of them responded to calls or messages on their cell phones.
“The plane disappeared from the place, without knowing the details of this case.”
The Cessna HC-BKP plane, which had its registration altered and landed on the night of January 8 without permission, disappeared from the Isabela airport aerodrome last Monday. It was allegedly used for drug trafficking activities.
The General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) mentioned that it gave notice to the Prosecutor’s Office about the anomaly after verifying [its absence] in the daily inspection carried out at the airport on Isabela island of Galapagos.
SIX POLICE POLICE PROHIBITED FROM LEAVING THE COUNTRY
The Prosecutor’s Office pointed out yesterday that two ex officio investigations have been initiated and which are kept confidential: one, to establish the causes and determine those presumed responsible for the disappearance of the aircraft; and another, for the events that occurred last January, under the auspice of an alleged crime of organized crime.
According to the agency, the case was reassigned to the National Transnational Organized Crime Investigation Unit in Guayaquil, under the investigative coordination of the Anti-Narcotics Intelligence Unit of the National Police. This last unit has initiated the proceedings to both find the occupants of the plane and determine the circumstances of the landing.
As mentioned by the Prosecutor’s Office yesterday, the personnel who were inside the plane “fled without being able to locate them,” without mentioning anything about arrested persons. But on January 9, the then Minister of Government, Patricio Pazmiño, reported that there was a detainee in the operations.
However, on March 24, it was reported that the police who were guarding the plane were ordered to be prohibited from leaving the country and must appear before the judge once a week. There are a total of six officers who will have to avail themselves of these measures after the hearing that was held today.
The president of the Galápagos Governing Council, Norman Wray, has asked the competent authorities for investigations and sanctions, if applicable, to the personnel responsible for what happened, whether due to intentional action or due to negligence.
Wray requested an urgent meeting of the Security Sector Cabinet “to resolve [the actions] corresponding to these events.”
This is not the first instance regarding an abandoned aircraft in the country that has been linked to drug trafficking or illegal activities. One of the most recent events occurred on February 8, in the border area of the Esmeraldas province, when the Ecuadorian Air Force detected a plane that was trying to land on a clandestine runway. Its occupants set fire to the ship and the drugs they were carrying.
Ecuador is among the 22 countries that the United States has identified as the main transit routes for narcotics.
On March 17, Aeropolicial was requested to transfer the plane to Guayaquil, but the Police indicated that due to a lack of pilots, this procedure could not be carried out, the Prosecutor’s Office reported.
The Cessna Conquest II aircraft, which allegedly had a Mexican flag and cloned registration, landed on January 8 at the Isabela airport, without authorization.
Read the entire coverage from Expreso at https://www.expreso.ec/actualidad/caso-avioneta-galapagos-rondan-inconsistencias-101171.html
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