Óscar Mauricio Pachón, alias "Puntilla"

Óscar Mauricio Pachón, alias "Puntilla," is a criminal boss who controlled a powerful drug trafficking network that bore his name in Colombia's strategic Eastern Plains region. He was arrested in February 2016 but was released in April 2017 under suspicious circumstances. 

Pachón was for years an obscure character who worked his way through the ranks of the country's biggest cartels before finally taking over the illicit empire of kingpin Daniel "El Loco" Barrera. His network was baptized "Los Puntilleros," and is currently considered to be one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the country. 

History

Pachón cut his teeth in Colombia's underworld as a stable boy and subsequently a hired assassin for the Medellín Cartel. He later joined the Cali Cartel, built a career as a successful businessman and owned cocaine processing laboratories in the departments of Valle del Cauca and Caquetá.

Pachón arrived in Colombia's Eastern Plains at the end of the 1990s, where he used his earnings to buy large swaths of land in Meta, Guaviare and Vichada departments. By 1998, he was forging ties with major drug boss Daniel "El Loco" Barrera, who dominated drug trafficking in the Eastern Plains from 2003 until his capture in 2012. Together, they ran drug trafficking routes into the United States and Europe.

But Pachón turned on his partner and, seeking to dominate the drug trade in the Eastern Plains, ordered the assassination of a number of Loco Barrera's right-hand men.

While he managed to maintain a low profile for years, Pachón had a reputation within his criminal circle for his violent retaliations against people he considered to be threatening, or untrustworthy.

The investigation that led to Pachón's capture began in 2013, when police discovered a cocaine laboratory capable of processing 500 to 600 kilograms of the drug per week in Mapiripán, Meta.

On February 26, 2016, the crime boss was arrested in a rural area of Cimitarra municipality, Santander. This was the first successful operation conducted by the Colombian police's new Search Bloc against Organized Crime. However he was released in April 2017, before being immediately detained and then released again. The Attorney General's Office announced it was investigating potential irregularities in the judicial decisions shortly after he was freed the second time. 

Criminal Activities

Pachón was believed to oversee the cultivation of coca crops, cocaine laboratories and trafficking routes out of Colombia. He reportedly hired the Meta Bloc -- a former paramilitary outfit -- to watch over his laboratories.

The crime boss also allegedly had his own network of hired assassins.

Geography

Pachón's main area of operations were the Eastern Plains, Colombia's vast low lands that are abundant with coca crops, drug laboratories and trafficking routes into neighboring Venezuela. As his allies were captured or killed, Pachón's influence spread across their former territories and into the departments of Norte de Santander, Meta and Vichada.

Pachón's tentacles reached the capital city of Bogotá, where he reportedly provided contract killing services.

Allies and Enemies

Pachón forged alliances with major drug traffickers, including Loco Barrera and guerrilla leader Víctor Ramón Navarro, alias "Megateo." Megateo controlled drug trafficking on the Venezuelan border in Norte de Santander department until his death in 2015.

Pachón reportedly had links to Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias "Otoniel," the head of Colombia's most powerful drug trafficking organization, the Urabeños. He was also an ally of Martín Farfán Díaz González, alias "Pijarbey" (or "Pijarvey"), the leader of the Libertadores de Vichada who was killed in September 2015.

At the time of his arrest, Pachón was considered a leading figure in the criminal organizations Libertadores de Vichada and Meta Bloc. These splinter groups formed following the demobilization of the paramilitary organization Popular Revolutionary Anti-Terrorist Army of Colombia (Ejército Revolucionario Popular Antiterrorista Colombiano - ERPAC). Pachón's criminal network became known as the "Puntilleros."

Prospects

With Pachón out of the Eastern Plains, it is uncertain whether or not a new criminal capo will take the reins of the drug trade in this turbulent region. Numerous armed groups continue have a presence in this vast area, and it is likely that more violence will break out as they scramble for control of the lucrative criminal real estate.