Ecuador arrests 14 people in organized crime probe

Ecuador's Attorney General Salazar attends hearing in Quito
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By Alexandra Valencia

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador's attorney general said on Wednesday that 14 people had been arrested in a probe into organized crime in the South American country, adding that charges will be weighed in the coming hours.

Those arrested include judges, lawyers and police accused of helping dangerous criminals walk free via legal maneuvers, the attorney general's office said.

Some of those detained have already been accused in the so-called "Metastasis" corruption and organized crime investigation, which already saw judicial staffers and others detained in March and last December.

Ecuador is facing huge spikes in violence which authorities blame on drug trafficking gangs. President Daniel Noboa, who took office in November, has declared 22 gangs terrorist groups and said the country is at war.

Noboa extended a state of emergency last month, allowing the military to participate in anti-crime efforts. The measure will expire on April 8.

The attorney general's office does not typically release full names of those arrested or charged.

(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Sarah Morland and Julis Symmes Cobb)