Los Choneros: Ecuador gang leader Júnior Roldán killed

Los Choneros: Ecuador gang leader Júnior Roldán killed

Officials in Ecuador say a senior leader of the Los Choneros gang, which was behind many of the recent deadly riots in the country's prisons, has been killed in neighbouring Colombia.

A body found in a wooded area in Antioquia province has been identified as that of Júnior Roldán.

He fled to Colombia after he was injured in an attempt on his life in his native Ecuador.

Roldán had been released from prison in February.

The body, which had a gunshot wound to the head was found on Saturday.

The mayor of Fredonia, the Colombian town where his body was found, said that he had probably been murdered somewhere else and his body dumped, as none of the locals remembered seeing him before.

Ecuador's interior minister said that forensic experts had been able to identify the body thanks to Roldán's tattoos and other identifying marks.

Roldán was considered a fugitive after he had ditched the electronic ankle bracelet he had been fitted with when he was released from jail.

The gang leader crossed into Colombia after he was shot and injured in March by members of rival gang Los Lobos (The Wolves).

He also survived another attack in which drones laden with explosives were set off above the prison wing in which he was locked up at the time.

Despite this history of previous attempts on his life, Ecuador's commander of police, Gen Fausto Salinas, said that intelligence reports suggested that his murder was not part of a war between rival gangs.

However, Gen Salinas did not give any details as to who may have shot him or why.

Police said his death was a blow to his gang, Los Choneros.

Named after their power base in the town of Chone, the gang mainly engages in drug trafficking and extortion.

After many of its members were jailed, it became one of Ecuador's most powerful prison gangs, controlling many aspects of life inside the country's penitentiaries and also directing criminal operations from behind bars.