In late July, the Colombian Armed Forces weakened the criminal group Clan del Golfo with the capture of 17 of its members during Operation San Lucas, carried out in Cartagena de Indias, Bolívar department. Those captured belong to the substructure Héroes del Caribe, which engages in narcotrafficking, extortion, and selective homicides in the region.
The Colombian Navy Caribbean Naval Force led the operation, which consisted of 18 raids, the Navy reported in a statement.
Among those captured is alias Justo, the alleged head of the substructure and the one in charge of distributing drugs and coordinating homicides and narcotrafficking, generating some $77,000 per month, the Navy said.
Alias Justo was wanted for the crimes of aggravated conspiracy to commit drug trafficking; attempted homicide; manufacturing, trafficking, and carrying firearms and ammunition; as well as trafficking, manufacturing, or carrying drugs, the naval institution said.
“The investigation had been going on for three months, and it enabled [authorities] to seize […] pamphlets alluding to the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces [another name by which the group refers to itself], shells of different calibers, [and] vehicles that they used to perpetrate illicit activities, including some selective homicides,” Colombian Navy Lieutenant Colonel Gonzalo Torres Betancourt, commander of the 12th Marine Infantry Battalion, told Diálogo. “Thanks to the very valuable information provided by the civic participation network and some human sources who have inside knowledge of the criminal organization and its activities, we were able to deal these blows.”
The Clan del Golfo, also known as Los Urabeños, is the largest criminal group in Colombia, with nearly 1,600 heavily armed violent members involved throughout the narcotrafficking chain and in illegal mining, the news agency Reuters reported. The U.S. Department of State is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Dario Antonio Usuga David, Clan del Golfo leader, who is accused of trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine to the United States.
“[With this blow,] the Clan del Golfo’s capacity for action is eroding, and its finances are also decreasing,” Lt. Col. Torres concluded.