Member of Colombian Drug Trafficking Gang Surrenders to US Authorities

By Dialogo
October 09, 2012

Luis Enrique Calle Serna, the last member of a Colombian drug trafficking gang to be arrested, surrendered to U.S. authorities in Panama, reported the Colombian police on October 4.

“Calle Serna’s lawyer contacted the DEA on behalf of his client, and agreed to his surrender in Panama,” said a police statement.

It is probable that the arrest of Colombian drug lord Daniel “El Loco” Barrera on September 18 in Venezuela accelerated Calle Serna’s surrender to authorities.

Until then, 36-year-old Calle Serna, was also in Venezuela under Barrera’s protection, stated the Police.

After several months of negotiations, one of his brothers, Javier Calle Serna aka “El Doctor,” surrendered to the DEA last May in Aruba, while Juan Carlos Calle Serna was captured in March, in Ecuador.

The three brothers were members of a clan known as “Los Comba” (Combatants) and controlled the criminal gang “Los Rastrojos,” under the leadership of Javier Calle Serna.

An arrest warrant was issued against Luis Enrique Calle in Colombia for nine offenses, including weapons trafficking from China and Europe, added the statement.

The police specified that based on the agreements between the authorities and the Calle Serna brothers, another 25 members of “Los Rastrojos” could surrender in the near future.

It is also estimated that this organization has suffered a decrease of about 20% of its members in the last months, and currently has just over 1,600 members.

“Los Rastrojos” are one of the main criminal heirs of the paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, demobilized between 2003 and 2006 after signing a peace agreement with Álvaro Uribe’s government (2002-2010), which granted procedural benefits in exchange for the confession of crimes and reparations to victims.

Colombian analysts believe that the rival criminal gang “Los Urabeños” could benefit from the lack of leadership and a possible split in “Los Rastrojos.”

So far, “Los Rastrojos” operated in dozens of departments, including some coca producers in the Colombian southeast, such as Nariño (on the border with Ecuador) and Cauca in which, according to authorities, they protected cocaine processing labs for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

After “El Loco” Barrera was captured, the Colombian government considered the end of an era in which big drug lords operated in the nation. Still, the country continues to record the highest cocaine production levels worldwide, with an estimated 345 tons in 2011, according to the United Nations.