Top Leadership of “Alta Guajira” Criminal Gang Dismantled in Colombia
By Dialogo August 11, 2011
Colombia’s Criminal Investigation Directorate and INTERPOL struck their most crushing blow against the “Alta Guajira” criminal gang upon arresting Johan Alberto Caldera, alias “Cobra,” the organization’s chief leader, and Luis Ignacio Suárez Rosario, alias “Pantera”, its second-in-command.
According to investigators, “Cobra” inherited the criminal structure from Arnulfo Sánchez González, alias “Pablo,” the top-ranking leader of “Alta Guajira,” who was arrested by the Colombian National Police in November 2010 in Bogotá.
“Cobra” took control of guarding, warehousing, transporting, and embarking the narcotic substances shipped by drug cartels to the United States, the coasts of the Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica.
For that purpose, he relied on alias “Pantera,” who was in charge of the drug stashes and of hiding the drugs until the vessels sailed for their final destination. “Pantera” was also responsible for administering all the criminal organization’s military material. At the same time, he extorted funds from retailers and threatened the indigenous population so that they would not be betrayed to the authorities. The “Alta Guajira” criminal organization is active in the municipality of La Uribia and neighboring areas.
During the operation, the investigators seized 8 rifles, 12 fragmentation grenades, 22 40-mm grenades, 7 mortars, 4,807 cartridges, 162 rifle magazines, and 3,200 kilograms of marijuana.
“Cobra” was recruited at the age of 14 by the militias of the then-active United Self-Defense Units of Colombia. He started off as a foot soldier in the organization and worked his way up the ranks to become the right-hand man of Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias “Jorge 40.”
Johan Alberto Caldera emerged as the highest-ranking leader of the “Alta Guajira” criminal gang following the arrest of the group’s head, Arnulfo Sánchez González, alias “Pablo,” late last year in Bogotá.