Colombia Claims Arrest of Middleman to Mexican Druglord

Colombia Claims Arrest of Middleman to Mexican Druglord

By Dialogo
January 17, 2011

Colombian police have arrested the main middleman, known as “The Condor,” linking a Colombian cocaine cartel and Mexico’s most wanted drug trafficker, a top Colombian police official said on 13 January.

Julio Enrique Ayala, alias “The Condor,” was captured with help from the United States on 12 January in the southwestern city of Cali, some 250 km from Colombia’s capital, Bogota, police said.

The Andean nation is the world’s top producer of cocaine — making around 400 tons of the white-powder annually — despite U.S.-backed drug eradication efforts and billions of dollars in aid to help fight traffickers.

Police General Carlos Ramiro Mena said Ayala was the main link between a Colombian cartel run by two brothers and Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman’s gang based in Mexico’s northwestern state of Sinaloa.

“(Ayala) was in charge of getting aircraft to land on clandestine airstrips in the southwest of the country and sending large amounts of cocaine,” Mena told reporters.

More than 30,000 people have died in violence across Mexico since the government sent the army to fight the cartels in 2006. Mexico says the bloodshed is a sign gangs are weakening, but rights groups worry the strategy has backfired, sparking an endless stream of revenge killings.

Colombia has its own long history battling drug lords, but violence has fallen sharply since the 1990s when traffickers would set off bombs, kill police officers and operate with impunity across the nation.

Many analysts draw comparisons between the drug wars of Colombia and Mexico. Although gangs are still strong in the South American nation, violence has dropped since highs in the 1990s and is now far below current levels in Mexico.