Colombian Soccer Legend Faustino Asprilla and His Family Flee Death Threats from Los Rastrojos

By Dialogo
December 12, 2014



Colombian soccer legend Faustino Asprillaand his family have fled from their home in Tuluá after receiving death threats from Los Rastrojos, one of the country’s most feared narco-trafficking groups.

“Today is one of the saddest days in my life,” Asprilla said in a prepared statement. “I am forced to abandon my own homeland, Tuluá, for being a victim of extortion. I have given my whole life to soccer and to represent Tuluá and my Colombia. And today, I’m running from my own land.”

Unidentified men came to Asprilla’s residence to tell him he needed to meet with a local crime lord known as “Porron” about making protection payments or face violent consequences. Police have offered a reward for information leading to Porron’s arrest.

“I feel completely indignant,” Asprilla tweeted on December 9. “How many more people must be going through the same thing, without being heard?”

Asprilla, who played professional soccer between 1988 and 2004, led the Colombian national team to an appearance at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, the 1994 and 1998 World Cup, and third-place finishes at the 1993 and 1995 Americas Cups.

Los Rastrojos originated in Tuluá, a major industrial and commercial center in the department of Valle del Cauca. Colombian National Police and the Armed Forces have weakened the organized crime group in recent years by capturing or killing several of its leaders; meanwhile, Los Rastrojos is also engaged in a violent turf war with another drug trafficking group, the Úsuga Clan. USS Vandegrift decommissioned after seizing nearly 9,100 kilograms of cocaine


After a seven-month deployment in the Central American isthmus in support of Operaton MARTILLO, the USS Vandegrift will return to its home port in San Diego on December 12 for decommissioning.

The 30-year-old ship’s final deployment was highly successful, as its crew seized nearly 9,100 kilograms of cocaine off the Central American coast since May 9, according to the U.S. Navy.

In addition to participating in Operation MARTILLO, a multinational mission to crack down on illicit drug trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus, the USS Vandegrift was also involved in community relations projects in Panama City, Panama. For example, 36 of its crew members helped construct a workshop for the visually impaired, helped fix the building for an outreach group and participated with the “Aid for AIDS” community, according to the Navy.

Launched in January 2012, Operation MARTILLO combines the forces of 10 countries in the Americas – Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panamá, Canada, and the United States – along with France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom, who work cooperatively to combat international drug trafficking, enhance regional security, and promote peace, stability and prosperity throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America.

At-sea interdictions are highly coordinated, with the security forces of the participating countries partnering to identify, stop, and search suspicious vessels.

The USS Vandegrift’s last reported interdiction occurred on November 20, when it teamed with a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) to seize 907 kilograms of cocaine from a small vessel off Central America’s Pacific Coast. Vandegrift crew members spotted the suspicious vessel and deployed a helicopter and a LEDET to stop and inspect the boat. Law enforcement officers found 14 bales that tested positive for cocaine.

Six days earlier, the USS Vandegrift and a LEDET seized about 873 kilograms of cocaine from a small boat off the Central American coast. After the Vandegrift’s helicopters spotted the vessel in an area known to be frequented by narco-traffickers, LEDET agents swooped in, recovering the 22 bales of cargo that had been tossed overboard. The bales tested positive for cocaine.

U.S. military authorities did not immediately disclose whether they made any arrests during either interdiction.

The Vandegrift is a frigate named in honor of General Alexander Vandegrift, a Medal-of-Honor recipient who led Marines in the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II and later served as the 18th commandant of the United States Marine Corps. However, frigates are being gradually replaced by faster and more maneuverable ships that can patrol in shallower waters.

Costa Rican Coast Guard seizes 500 kilograms of cocaine


After receiving information from Colombian authorities, the Costa Rican Coast Guard arrested three suspects and seized 500 kilograms of cocaine from a fishing boat on December 8.

The Costa Rican Air Surveillance Service (SVA) provided the location of the suspicious vessel to the Coast Guard, which interdicted the boat 3 nautical miles from Punta Burica.

Coast Guard officers captured three suspects as they tried to swim away.

Argentine police dismantle international narco-trafficking ring


Police in Argentina dismantled an international narco-trafficking ring by confiscating 235 kilograms of cocaine and capturing 27 suspects, including the alleged leader, Security Secretary Sergio Berni told reporters on December 9.

At the outset of the operation, police arrested five Bolivian nationals, including a woman who is the suspected leader of the drug trafficking group. Though Berni didn’t immediately disclose when and where the captures occurred, he told reporters those arrests led to “30 searches in different places in the metro area of the federal capital, resulting in the seizure of 235 kilos of cocaine of maximum purity.”

Berni didn't release the names of the second group of suspects either, saying only they were from Peru, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.

“The Peruvians sold [the cocaine] wholesale, the Colombians sold it abroad and the Dominicans sold it at the retail level in Buenos Aires,” Berni said.

Police started investigating the ring in 2013, after Argentinian police arrested a Spain-bound drug mule with a kilogram of cocaine in his body at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires.

U.S. Border Patrol agents confiscate $7.4 million in narcotics, arrest 3 suspects


Border Patrol agents in Texas’ Laredo sector recently confiscated drugs collectively worth 7.4 million dollars in two separate busts, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

On December 7, Border Patrol agents seized more than 68 pounds of liquid methamphetamine with a street value of $4.8 million concealed in a pickup truck and arrested the driver of the truck, who is from Florida.

The previous day, Border Patrol agents arrested two women after finding $2.6 million worth of cocaine in the car they were driving in Gatesville, Texas, about 515 kilometers from the U.S. border with Mexico.

“This is another example of the enforcement mindset and dedication from our CBP officers,” Laredo-based Acting Port Director Joseph Misenhelter said. “I am very pleased with all of their efforts which resulted in the interception of these hard narcotics.”


Colombian soccer legend Faustino Asprillaand his family have fled from their home in Tuluá after receiving death threats from Los Rastrojos, one of the country’s most feared narco-trafficking groups.

“Today is one of the saddest days in my life,” Asprilla said in a prepared statement. “I am forced to abandon my own homeland, Tuluá, for being a victim of extortion. I have given my whole life to soccer and to represent Tuluá and my Colombia. And today, I’m running from my own land.”

Unidentified men came to Asprilla’s residence to tell him he needed to meet with a local crime lord known as “Porron” about making protection payments or face violent consequences. Police have offered a reward for information leading to Porron’s arrest.

“I feel completely indignant,” Asprilla tweeted on December 9. “How many more people must be going through the same thing, without being heard?”

Asprilla, who played professional soccer between 1988 and 2004, led the Colombian national team to an appearance at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, the 1994 and 1998 World Cup, and third-place finishes at the 1993 and 1995 Americas Cups.

Los Rastrojos originated in Tuluá, a major industrial and commercial center in the department of Valle del Cauca. Colombian National Police and the Armed Forces have weakened the organized crime group in recent years by capturing or killing several of its leaders; meanwhile, Los Rastrojos is also engaged in a violent turf war with another drug trafficking group, the Úsuga Clan. USS Vandegrift decommissioned after seizing nearly 9,100 kilograms of cocaine


After a seven-month deployment in the Central American isthmus in support of Operaton MARTILLO, the USS Vandegrift will return to its home port in San Diego on December 12 for decommissioning.

The 30-year-old ship’s final deployment was highly successful, as its crew seized nearly 9,100 kilograms of cocaine off the Central American coast since May 9, according to the U.S. Navy.

In addition to participating in Operation MARTILLO, a multinational mission to crack down on illicit drug trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus, the USS Vandegrift was also involved in community relations projects in Panama City, Panama. For example, 36 of its crew members helped construct a workshop for the visually impaired, helped fix the building for an outreach group and participated with the “Aid for AIDS” community, according to the Navy.

Launched in January 2012, Operation MARTILLO combines the forces of 10 countries in the Americas – Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panamá, Canada, and the United States – along with France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom, who work cooperatively to combat international drug trafficking, enhance regional security, and promote peace, stability and prosperity throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America.

At-sea interdictions are highly coordinated, with the security forces of the participating countries partnering to identify, stop, and search suspicious vessels.

The USS Vandegrift’s last reported interdiction occurred on November 20, when it teamed with a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) to seize 907 kilograms of cocaine from a small vessel off Central America’s Pacific Coast. Vandegrift crew members spotted the suspicious vessel and deployed a helicopter and a LEDET to stop and inspect the boat. Law enforcement officers found 14 bales that tested positive for cocaine.

Six days earlier, the USS Vandegrift and a LEDET seized about 873 kilograms of cocaine from a small boat off the Central American coast. After the Vandegrift’s helicopters spotted the vessel in an area known to be frequented by narco-traffickers, LEDET agents swooped in, recovering the 22 bales of cargo that had been tossed overboard. The bales tested positive for cocaine.

U.S. military authorities did not immediately disclose whether they made any arrests during either interdiction.

The Vandegrift is a frigate named in honor of General Alexander Vandegrift, a Medal-of-Honor recipient who led Marines in the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II and later served as the 18th commandant of the United States Marine Corps. However, frigates are being gradually replaced by faster and more maneuverable ships that can patrol in shallower waters.

Costa Rican Coast Guard seizes 500 kilograms of cocaine


After receiving information from Colombian authorities, the Costa Rican Coast Guard arrested three suspects and seized 500 kilograms of cocaine from a fishing boat on December 8.

The Costa Rican Air Surveillance Service (SVA) provided the location of the suspicious vessel to the Coast Guard, which interdicted the boat 3 nautical miles from Punta Burica.

Coast Guard officers captured three suspects as they tried to swim away.

Argentine police dismantle international narco-trafficking ring


Police in Argentina dismantled an international narco-trafficking ring by confiscating 235 kilograms of cocaine and capturing 27 suspects, including the alleged leader, Security Secretary Sergio Berni told reporters on December 9.

At the outset of the operation, police arrested five Bolivian nationals, including a woman who is the suspected leader of the drug trafficking group. Though Berni didn’t immediately disclose when and where the captures occurred, he told reporters those arrests led to “30 searches in different places in the metro area of the federal capital, resulting in the seizure of 235 kilos of cocaine of maximum purity.”

Berni didn't release the names of the second group of suspects either, saying only they were from Peru, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.

“The Peruvians sold [the cocaine] wholesale, the Colombians sold it abroad and the Dominicans sold it at the retail level in Buenos Aires,” Berni said.

Police started investigating the ring in 2013, after Argentinian police arrested a Spain-bound drug mule with a kilogram of cocaine in his body at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires.

U.S. Border Patrol agents confiscate $7.4 million in narcotics, arrest 3 suspects


Border Patrol agents in Texas’ Laredo sector recently confiscated drugs collectively worth 7.4 million dollars in two separate busts, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

On December 7, Border Patrol agents seized more than 68 pounds of liquid methamphetamine with a street value of $4.8 million concealed in a pickup truck and arrested the driver of the truck, who is from Florida.

The previous day, Border Patrol agents arrested two women after finding $2.6 million worth of cocaine in the car they were driving in Gatesville, Texas, about 515 kilometers from the U.S. border with Mexico.

“This is another example of the enforcement mindset and dedication from our CBP officers,” Laredo-based Acting Port Director Joseph Misenhelter said. “I am very pleased with all of their efforts which resulted in the interception of these hard narcotics.”
To remind the authorities, extortion has been going on in Tulua for 15 years. The prosecutor's office has the files of the accusations. Many families were left bankrupt because they had to flee and leave their businesses behind. No government has made the effort to help the displaced persons.
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