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Government arrests suspects in Ecuadorian journalist's murder

More than a month and a half after the death of journalist Fausto Valdiviezo, murdered on 11 April 2013 in Guayaquil, nine people have been arrested as suspects allegedly involved in the crime. The most recent arrests occurred on Monday, 27 May with the capture of Ingrid Soraya León Bermúdez, identified by the police as the alleged mastermind of the journalist's murder, and her niece, who hours earlier had voluntarily surrendered pretending to be her aunt to check if the necessary guarantees for handing herself in were in place. The Minister of the Interior, José Serrano, had offered a reward of US$50,000 to anyone who provided information about the whereabouts of León Bermúdez and another suspect who is still at large.

On the evening of 22 May the Minister of the Interior, through his twitter account, reported the arrest of seven suspects involved in Valdiviezo's death and two more who were later released. Those arrests occurred after an operation carried out by members of the Intervention and Rescue Group, who simultaneously raided four homes located in an exclusive area of Guayaquil.

According to press reports, the operation led to the discovery of four vehicles, cash and alleged evidence of activities related to the "collection and delivery of drugs," which suggested to the Police that they are dealing with a gang linked to drug trafficking, usury and human trafficking.

Minister Serrano publicly stated that this evidence established an "unusual" relation between the journalist and the crime suspects. His statements were rejected by the journalist's relatives who sent a letter to the minister asking for clarification of the type of relation mentioned by the official and stating that the term "unusual" sullies the journalist's memory.

Serrano replied in an interview with TV station GamaTV that he was in no way accusing the journalist of any type of criminal activity and asserted that it will be the judges who determine the facts accurately. "An unusual relationship has been found and it needs to be clarified. The important thing is that we have initiated an investigation into what was a deplorable crime and we have found a gang that was operating in the city of Guayaquil", said Serrano who also said that thanks to the evidence found, such as phone calls, vehicles, etc., they have been able to arrest the first suspects and begin to solve the case.

Finally, at a press conference, the minister announced that new suspects will be called to testify, including an Ecuavisa TV station journalist who was present during the surrender of the prime suspect, Ingrid Soraya León Bermúdez.

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