BOGOTÁ, Colombia – President Juan Manuel Santos’ successful fight against narcotics continued on Jan. 3 when anti-drug police seized 1.5 tons of cocaine stashed in containers that were bound for the United States from the city of Cartagena.
“[The cocaine] would have departed from the (dock) to Honduras, and then to the Dominican Republic and from there, to the United States,” said Gen Óscar Naranjo, head of the Colombian police, according to EFE.
Naranjo said no apprehensions were made, but the narcotic, which had a street value of US$45 million, is suspected of belonging to the Los Urabeños, a gang known for its narcotics trafficking along the Caribbean coast.
The cocaine was divided into 753 packs, each weighing about two kilograms (4.4 pounds).
The bust comes less than a week after police confiscated in Buenaventura at least 6.2 tons of cocaine suspected of belonging to alleged narcotics trafficker Daniel Barrera, known as “Loco Barrera.”
Guatemala: Los Zetas has base in Alta Verapaz, official says
GUATEMALA CITY – The Mexico-based Los Zetas drug cartel has established an operations facility in Alta Verapaz, the department that has been under the government’s state of siege for the past two weeks, Interior Minister Carlos Menocal said.
Menocal said the government’s battle against the cartel is gaining momentum, adding officials have confiscated planes, vehicles, weapons and US$40,000 in cash, in addition to arresting more than 20 suspected narcotics traffickers.
“This is just the beginning,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “[Los Zetas] had their base, their hiding place, their operations center in Alta Verapaz.”
Los Zetas cartel, one of the largest traffickers of narcotics in the Americas, has a presence in 75% of Guatemala, security officials said, according to Reuters.
The government is fighting Los Zetas by allowing law enforcement officials to arrest or interrogate suspected criminals without a warrant.
President Álvaro Colom said his country does not have enough police or military personnel to extend operations into neighboring departments but wants to increase the army’s size from 17,000 to 21,000 troops in 2011.
Colombia: 7 suspected members of Don Mario gang caught
BOGOTÁ, Colombia – Seven alleged members of a narcotics trafficking gang have been apprehended during a joint raid by the army and the Attorney General’s Office in the nation’s capital, Ana Margarita Durán, the head of the narcotics unit of the Attorney General’s Office said.
The suspects, who were arrested during operations in the departments of Antioquia and Córdoba, allegedly are members of the Águilas Gaitanistas (Gaitanist Eagles) gang, which was formerly led by Daniel Rendón Herrera, who has been jailed since 2009.
One of the suspects arrested has been identified as Luis Eduardo Varga, the gang’s alleged leader who goes by the alias “Pipón” and is suspected of having a role in hundreds of crimes committed throughout the area, authorities said.
Durán said the arrests were a major blow to the gang, which is on the verge of being dismantled, according to EFE.
Chile: Eight caught in drug bust
CALAMA, Chile – Eight suspects have been arrested in connection with selling and transporting narcotics in the city of Calama in northern Chile, authorities said.
Law enforcement officials seized US$12 million in cash allegedly earned from the suspects’ suspected criminal activities, 48 kilograms (105 pounds) of crack cocaine, 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of marijuana and two vehicles.
The investigation began on Dec. 27, 2010 when police found 58 packages of drugs in the trunk of a bus traveling from Calama to the nearby city of Antofagasta, authorities said, according to the Chilean daily El Mercurio.
Has the La Familia cartel called a month-long truce?
MORELIA, Mexico – Prosecutors in the western state of Michoacán are investigating the authenticity of a letter suspected of being written by the La Familia drug cartel claiming the gang has called a month-long truce, officials said.
The cartel said in its one-page letter, which was circulated throughout the area via email and in some cases distributed door by door, that it will not commit any crimes during January to show it “is not responsible for the criminal acts federal authorities are reporting to the media.”
The letter comes in the wake of government statements that the cartel’s strength as been diminished by a spate of recent arrests and deaths of high-ranking members.
In November, La Familia was suspected of authoring a letter offering to dismantle the gang if the government would protect residents from other criminal organizations, but nothing came to fruition.
In December, alleged members of La Familia set fire to vehicles and used them to block all avenues into the state capital of Morelia in response to the slaying of Nazario Moreno González, the gang’s alleged leader, by Federal Police.
Officials said the cartel has unleashed a wave of violence across the state for years, as it’s responsible for kidnappings, extortion, killings and narcotics trafficking.
Mexican President Felipe Calderón said on Jan. 2 his administration continues to make battling organized crime a top priority.
“We all know it is necessary to rid Mexico of crime, impunity and corruption,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “I can assure you we are on the right path and we will defeat the criminals, to ultimately build a Mexico of peace.”