A 60-day national state of emergency has entered into force in Ecuador.
The measure was announced by President Guillermo Lasso on Monday evening in response to a wave of violent crime.
Guillermo Lasso said the police and armed forces were being mobilized and their presence would be felt “with force” in the streets.
Official figures suggest the number of murders in the first eight months of this year is double that of the same period last year.
Speaking in a televised address, President Lasso said that as part of the emergency measures, the armed forces and police would carry out “arms checks, inspections, 24-hour patrols and searches for drugs, among other actions “.
The measure was introduced weeks after a prison brawl in the port city of Guayaquil left 119 people dead.
Analysts said the prison killings were likely ordered from outside the prison, reflecting a power struggle between the Mexican drug cartels currently underway in Ecuador.
They added that the murderous struggle had highlighted the growing influence in Ecuador of Mexican criminal organizations, which operate in the Andean country through local gangs.
Ecuador is a transit country for cocaine from neighboring Peru and Colombia, and much of the crime wave is believed to be drug-related.
“There is only one enemy in the streets of Ecuador and that is drug trafficking,” President Lasso said on Monday.
He added that more than 70% of violent crime in Guayas province – where the country’s most populous city, Guayaquil is located – was linked to drug trafficking.