Colombian Army, National Police Neutralize Leaders of Major Criminal Organizations

Colombian Army, National Police Neutralize Leaders of Major Criminal Organizations

By Dialogo
November 30, 2015

[untranslatable] guerrillas The return toward drug trafficking again is critical

Colombia’s National Army and National Police recently conducted two separate operations that resulted in the deaths of two leaders of major criminal organizations in the country’s northern and eastern departments.

In the northeastern region of Catatumbo, a raid by the Army’s Second Division on October 1 culminated in the death of Víctor Ramón Navarro, who went by the alias “Megateo” and had headed the Popular Liberation Army (EPL, for its Spanish acronym). Four days earlier, the National Police’s Anti-extortion and Anti-kidnapping Directorate (DIASE) killed Martín Farfán Díaz, who went by the alias “Pijarvey” and had been the leader of a drug-trafficking group in the eastern plains of central and southern Colombia.

Megateo, 39, led the only remaining faction of the EPL, a guerrilla group that demobilized in the early 1990s and controlled vast coca fields in the department of Norte de Santander, according to Army intelligence. Authorities had offered a reward of 2 billion pesos (US$646,120) for information regarding the whereabouts of Megateo, who had committed crimes in the area for nearly 20 years and had escaped from at least 14 operations by security forces over that time.

“Everything revolved around Megateo,” said Brigadier General Jorge Humberto Jerez Cuellar, the Commander of the Army’s Second Division. “Now his group is scrambling to reorganize and find a new area of operations since the area they were in is no longer safe.”

Megateo, who threatened and paid off local residents to cultivate illegal coca crops and act as lookouts, was known for his lavish tastes – he drank only expensive whiskies – and his abusive ways with women. He pursued mostly underage women, some of whom were marked with tattoos of his face.

But Megateo met his demise when Troops and police officers converged on the kingpin’s hideout in the mountains of Catatumbo, where he and his men tried to fire a homemade rocket as an assault team descended in a helicopter. However, the weapon backfired and Megateo was killed instantly, while 10 of his men died in an ensuing gunfight with Soldiers and police.

Operation takes out drug kingpin Pijarvey

Pijarvey’s death, meanwhile, caused his narco-trafficking group to dissolve.

“Pijarvey was like a trademark, a myth, or a legend,” said Sergeant Willy Casallas of DIASE, one of the lead investigators who tracked down Pijarvey. “He was known ever since he was a part of the Autodefensas del Llano
[a paramilitary group that operated in Colombia’s eastern plains in the early 2000s]. He was a part of the old guard, and with his death his group crumbled.”

“He was in charge of 150 men...He had consolidated control of the department of Vichada and of the border with Venezuela. And for a while now, he was planning to expand to Villavicencio.”

Like Megateo, Pijarvey had been a criminal fixture for years.

He had been in several paramilitary groups, eventually becoming second-in-command of a drug-trafficking group led by Pedro Oliveiro Guerrero, who worked with Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha and the Castaño brothers to secure drug routes and carry out extortion rackets in the southeastern departments of Vichada, Casanare, and Meta. Eventually, Pijarvey supplanted Guerrero -- who went by the alias “Cuchillo” -- after the latter drowned in a stream trying to escape during a gunfight between his drug-trafficking group and Armed Forces Commandos in an area between Meta and Guaviare in December 2010. Pijarvey inherited Cuchillo’s criminal structure, which he renamed Bloque Libertadores del Vichada,
and its illegal businesses, according to the National Police.

The group charged drug traffickers 400,000 pesos (about US$138) for safely transporting each kilogram of cocaine across the Venezuelan border and 300,000 pesos (US$103) for processing every kilogram of coca paste.

But less than five years later, Troops caught up to Pijarvey, who had evaded capture during a National Police operation in late 2014. Pijarvey was killed by a DIASE sniper during a gunfight with Troops who had converged on his hideout on September 27, after receiving information of his whereabouts 12 days earlier.