Who is Leandro Norera, the alleged drug trafficker who operated in Ecuador?

Leandro Antonio Norera Tigua is known as El Patron in the ‘underworld’, say reserved sources. His criminal operation grew since he faked his death, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2020. It grew so much that Norera would have become one of the main economic and financial suppliers of the three enemy gangs of Los Choneros: Los Lobos, Los Tiguerones and Los Chone Killers, the armed organization that Norera formed, together with the narcotrafficker known as Trompudo Israel.

His name made headlines on May 25, 2022 when, in a series of operations in Guayaquil, a millionaire confiscation of gold bars, weapons, jewelry and bundles of bills was made and the Police arrested El Patron, along with six other people. Among them are his brothers Johanna and Israel, and his partner Lina Romero.

On May 28, the four were transferred to the Latacunga prison, after Judge Ubaldo Macías, from the Criminal Guarantees Unit, ordered preventive detention for those prosecuted for the alleged crime of money laundering . The other three defendants received alternative measures.

Who is Leandro Norera?

He is 35 years old and his life — like that of many people linked to criminal drug gangs — was linked to poverty since he was a child in Guayaquil. However, when he was arrested, it became known that he owns companies, high-end watches, luxury jewelry, mechanics and washing machines in Daule, where he controlled their operations for more than a decade.

His criminal activity dates back to 2005. A year later, he had his first judicial setback: in 2006 he was arrested for illegal possession of weapons. Then, in 2012, according to the legal records of the judicial function, he faced a trial for aggravated robbery.

Later, in 2018, he faced another trial for large-scale drug trafficking. However, none of the cases advanced, nor did they confine Norera in an Ecuadorian prison.

Norera has an extensive criminal record and his leadership was in Los Ñetas, to later found Los Chone Killers together with alias Trompudo.

He even agreed with one of the names that still resonates in the prison world: Jorge Luis Zambrano , alias JL, murdered in December 2020. Although it is known that at that time JL centralized the drug trafficking business, with his death, the alliance with Norera it also became extinct.

So, Norera chose to connect with the dissident gangs, now enemies of the two who seek power in prisons, Adolfo Macías, alias Fito, and Junior Roldán, alias JR.

Although his name is quite well known in the criminal world, for the citizenry, it was still a mystery. The first time he was heard about, in the midst of the violence in the prisons, was in a video that Los Fantasmas, another of the sub-cells created by alias Fito, broadcast on October 14, 2021.

“Here the Ghosts are going to start cleaning Tiguerones, Lobos and Lagartos, with the Samirs [a drug-trafficking businessman] and Ben 10, we know that they are an armed arm of you, Leandro, that you want to ride that you do nothing , but it is financed so that they can destroy inside and outside the prisons,” said one of the hooded spokesmen in the video.

But the video that included his name would not have been the trigger to investigate it. The investigations would have started earlier. The Minister of the Interior, Patricio Carrillo, said after the operations that 18 months of investigations had passed to find the whereabouts of Norera Tigua and his collaborators, above all, because of the economic trail he left.

Among the elements of conviction that were exposed in the indictment hearing were:

  • Reports from the Financial Analysis Unit (UAFE)
  • Reports from the Internal Revenue Service (SRI)
  • Documentation sent by the Land Registry
  • The cadastral appraisal of the assets of the defendants.