Colombian Armed Forces Capture Members of ELN and Los Pelusos

National efforts against crime weaken criminal groups in Colombia.
Yolima Dussán/Diálogo | 15 April 2019

Capacity Building

Units of the Colombian Army, Air Force, and National Police arrested alias Gabino, who is accused of murdering many members of the public force. (Photo: Colombian Army’s Seventh Division).

Units of the Colombian Armed Forces captured Juan Gabriel Villa, alias Gabino, leader of the National Liberation Army (ELN, in Spanish), and Jesús Alirio Téllez, alias Chunga, member of the organized armed group (GAO, in Spanish) Los Pelusos, on February 27, 2019. Two simultaneous operations in Antioquia and Norte de Santander departments facilitated the arrests.

Alias Gabino, neutralized

Units of the Colombian Army, Air Force, and National Police arrested alias Gabino, leader of an ELN criminal gang, in Anorí municipality, Antioquia department. Authorities found the criminal’s hiding spot thanks to information from the Civic Participation Network, which allows citizens to report illicit activities anonymously.

“This man has been breaking the law for more than eight years, killing soldiers and police officers, and burning vehicles in the area. He then became the second leader of Héroes de Anorí front, and from there coordinated all illicit profits from narcotrafficking,” Brigadier General Juan Carlos Ramírez Trujillo, commander of the Colombian Army’s Seventh Division, told the press. “His arrest deals another blow to this GAO, affecting the structure in municipalities such as El Bagre, Valdivia, Cáceres, Tarazá, Zaragoza, Nechí, and Amalfi, among others.”

Alias Gabino’s criminal history includes the murder of public force members in 2014 and 2016, as well as the kidnapping of six people in the Amalfi area, including two minors. He is also accused of attacking Anorí’s police station with fragmentation grenades on January 22, 2019, and of an attack against an electrical tower that supplies companies and communities in the area. “After neutralizing alias Gabino, we were able to reduce ELN’s logistics and terrorist capabilities,” the Seventh Division said in a press release.

Colombian authorities dealt continuous blows to ELN in 2019. So far this year, the Army arrested 39 members of ELN’s Western and Darío Ramírez Castro war fronts in the country’s northwest. The national offensive against crime covers all criminal structures.

The operation against alias Chunga (fourth from left) enabled the arrest of three other members of his gang, devoted to homicide and extortion, as well as drug, arms, and foreign currency trafficking. (Photo: Norte de Santander Police Department, Colombia)

Chunga and his gang

Alias Chunga, also captured on February 27, kidnapped and extorted mayors and retailers in Ocaña province, Norte de Santander department, and provided weapons to Los Pelusos. The departmental police sought him for murder, narcotrafficking, and possession of illegal firearms.

“Chunga is the alleged mastermind behind the murders of retailers Carlos Andrés Rincón and Jonatán Moros,” Norte de Santander Police told the press. “The crimes were committed on November 18, 2018, in [a restaurant in] Cúcuta.”

The Criminal Investigation and Police Intelligence Division and the Office of the Attorney General led the operation, which also brought about the capture of José Javier León Vega, alias Jaguar; Roque Antonio Rueda, alias Rocoso; and a woman who was Chunga’s romantic partner and accomplice in his criminal activities. The four were members of Los Pelusos.

“Alias Jaguar was in charge of marketing drugs, trafficking foreign currency, and acquiring weapons,” the police reported. “Rocoso sold stolen vehicles and drugs, and trafficked foreign currency, weapons, and ammunition.”

Units of the Office of the Attorney General searched the place where the gang was captured and found weapons and different types of ammunition. Rocoso obtained money to buy military gear through real estate and vehicle mortgages from this organization, in addition to delivering drugs to Mexican cartels.

Colombian President Iván Duque told the press that “joint work showed that in six months we were able to prosecute more than 10,000 criminals.” He added, “We struck the Clan del Golfo, Los Puntilleros, Los Pelusos, and the ELN terrorist group, and we will continue to do so.”

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