Leaders of Criminal Gangs Rounded Up

By Dialogo
May 20, 2011

In the course of the strongest offensive against criminal gangs in recent months, one that has made it possible to strike telling blows against criminals such as alias “Valenciano,” alias “Comba,” and alias “Sebastián,” the Colombian National Police launched Operation Emperor, which concluded on 17 May with the arrest of twelve members of “Los Rastrojos”.

These members are among the chief leaders of the organization, who pursue their criminal activities primarily in the Lower Cauca region of Antioquia and are responsible for 85% of the homicides and 65% of the production, trafficking, and transport of narcotics in that region.

Those arrested, the targets of arduous investigations and judicial processes pursued by the Colombian National Police over the last eighteen months, took their orders directly from alias “Sebastián,” who moved from the “Los Paisas” criminal gang to “Los Rastrojos” in order to dispute the control of routes, crops, and profits with the “Los Urabeños” group, led by the brothers Dairo Antonio and Juan de Dios Úsuga David.

Those arrested include alias “Servi,” head of finances and drug trafficking for the criminal gang, alias “Vicente,” leader of the group’s hitmen, and alias “Pacheco,” a nephew of the structure’s highest-ranking leader, for whom a reward of up to 1.2 billion pesos (approximately $656,000 dollars) is being offered. It is worth recalling that on 29 March and 1 May, alias “Mateo” and alias “Pantera”, the third-ranking and second-ranking leaders of “Los Rastrojos,” respectively, were detained and brought before the judicial authorities.

The investigation, which entailed handling at least three human sources and applying technical intelligence monitoring along several lines authorized by the Colombian Attorney-General’s Office, concluded with simultaneous searches and arrests in Bogotá, Medellín, Caucasia, and Cáceres in Antioquia, Restrepo in Valle del Cauca, and Ocaña in Norte de Santander.

As a result of these operations, carried out by elite units of the South American country’s National Police, two CPUs, one portable computer, one USB memory device, thirteen cellular telephones, one camera, and ten million pesos in cash (approximately $5,500 dollars) were seized.

So far in the month of May, government forces have carried out arrests of 212 members of criminal gangs, 14 of them eligible for extradition, while seizing one grenade launcher, 107 firearms, 36 fragmentation grenades, and 3,538 cartridges of ammunition of various calibers, a large part of which was found in five caches discovered in rural areas of Antioquia and Córdoba.

Since 1 January, 1,090 members of emerging drug-trafficking groups have been arrested in police operations, as a result of which 3.8 tons of narcotics belonging to those organizations have been seized.