Colombian Army and Police capture alleged Clan Úsuga leader ‘Moña’
By Dialogo September 29, 2014
“Moña” – allegedly a high-ranking leader of the Clan Úsuga – has finally been captured.
The Judicial Police and troops with the Presidential Guard Battalion of the National Army, Thirteenth Brigade arrested the 36-year-old man August 19 in Bosa, south of Bogotá. The arrest followed an intelligence operation that extended over several months, conducted by the Army in cooperation with the Technical Investigation Corps (CTI) of the Attorney General’s Office.
Extortion, kidnapping, and drug trafficking
When security forces captured him, Moña was seeking to working to increase the number of drug trafficking routes the Clan Úsuga uses. And that’s just the start of his alleged crimes.
Army officials suspect that Moña was in charge of a criminal network comprised of at least 14 Clan Úsuga operatives who collected ransom and extortion payments and committed assassinations in eastern Colombia.
From 2003 to 2005, Moña was also active in the Héroes de Tolová Bloc, where he became the top lieutenant of Diego Fernando Murillo Bejarano, who is also known as "Don Berna" or “Adolfo Paz.” Don Berna was one of the top leaders of the now-defunct United Self-Defenses of Colombia.
Colombian security forces captured Don Berna, and in 2008 they extradited him to the United States. There, he pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, and in April 2009 was sentenced to 31 years in prison.
A serious blow
Moña’s capture is the most recent strike by Colombian security forces against the Clan Úsuga – but it isn’t the first. In just the last few months, Army and PNC agents have scored significant victories against the organized crime group:
On September 16, PNC anti-narcotics agents, working in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, arrested the Clan Úsuga’s lawyer, Luis Felipe Zapata Córdoba, who is also known as “Pipe” or “El Hijo.” U.S. federal prosecutors allege Pipe has engaged in drug trafficking, and seek to have Pipe extradited to the United States. PNC agents also captured five alleged Clan Úsuga operatives who are suspected of using cargo ships to transport large amounts of drugs from Colombia to the Caribbean and then to Mexico and the U.S.
On August 30, PNC agents captured 48 alleged Clan Úsuga operatives in Buenaventura. One of the suspects, Eber Alegría, who is also known as "Liso Negro,” is suspected of being a regional leader for the organized crime group. The other 47 alleged operatives are suspected of extortion and homicide.
On August 15, PNC agents dismantled an alleged Clan Úsuga cell which operated in the department of Sucre. PNC agents captured five suspects who allegedly engaged in drug trafficking and assassinations.
The recent captures of so many alleged Clan Úsuga operatives, including the arrest of Moña, represents a “serious blow” to the organized crime group, according to Frederick Masé, director of the Center for Research and Special Projects at the Externado de Colombia University.
“The fight against organized crime must range from exerting control, suppression, and prevention to a greater presence on the ground,” Masé said.
In a municipality in Sucre in San Antonio de Palmito they captured the soldier using an alias known to be a member of the Usuga clan with a circular from Interpol in the company of the treasurer of that municipality who had been harboring him at his ranch three months ago