QUITO: Ecuador on Saturday declared a state of emergency in the nation’s major port and other areas reeling from drug-related crime.

The decree permits security forces to set up checkpoints and conduct warrantless searches of people and property.

Speaking in a televised address to the nation, President Guillermo Lasso said he had declared a state of emergency in the port of Guayaquil and the neighboring districts of Duran and Samborondon, as well as in Santa Elena and Los Rios provinces.

Lasso added that the state of emergency included a nightly curfew from 1 am to 5 am in the affected areas.

Last year, Lasso declared similar temporary states of emergency three times for Guayaquil, which has faced a sharp spike in organized-crime-related killings.

Lasso did not say how long the current state of emergency would last.

“We have a common enemy: delinquency, drug trafficking and organized crime,” said Lasso, a right-wing former banker who took office nearly two years ago.

Ecuador landslide death toll rises to 12

Ecuador, which is sandwiched between major cocaine producers Colombia and Peru, has been hit by a wave of violent crime that authorities blame on turf battles between drug gangs.

The nation has become a major drug distribution center for narcotics bound for the United States and Europe.

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