Bodyguards Kill Colombian Crime Leader

By Dialogo
July 29, 2011

The leader of the Colombian criminal gang with the most fighters and one of those most involved in drug-trafficking activities was murdered by his bodyguards in the country’s northwest, the police announced, an event that could lead to the group’s reorganization and spark violence.

Emerging criminal gangs are considered the new threat to the security of the country, which has fought drug traffickers and leftist guerillas for decades.

Ángel de Jesús Pacheco, alias “Sebastián,” the leader of “Los Rastrojos” [“The Stubble”], died in a rural area of the municipality of Caucacia, in the department of Antioquia. His death could lead to a reorganization of that criminal group, which has around 2,000 members, according to security sources.

The police commander in Antioquia, Col. José Gerardo Acevedo, said that the criminal was shot and killed by men he trusted, who then notified the authorities of the crime and the exact location of the corpse.

The criminal gangs are made up of former extreme-right-wing paramilitaries who demobilized amid controversial peace negotiations with the government, but who returned to living outside the law, forming private armies in the service of drug traffickers.

The intensity of the conflict, as well as the massacres, murders, kidnappings, and attacks on the country’s economic infrastructure, declined after 2002 due to a military offensive launched by former president Álvaro Uribe with support from the United States.

Nevertheless, the guerrillas, who withdrew to mountainous and jungle areas, still maintain the capacity to carry out high-impact attacks, even in large urban centers, despite the death of important leaders and desertions by fighters.