• Connect with us on Linkedin

Colombian Capo 'Loco' Barrera Talks about Killing Enemies, Trafficking Cocaine

Daniel "El Loco" Barrera Daniel "El Loco" Barrera

Recordings of Colombian drug trafficker Daniel Barrera, alias "El Loco," speaking to Colombian and Venezuelan authorities shed light on the inner workings of his criminal organization, as well as his brash personality. 

Linkedin
Google +

The audio, published by Semana magazine, features Barrera speaking on a range of subjects, justifying his reasons for killing off several of his enemies, and describing his alliance with other Colombian drug trafficking organizations. 

[Listen to audio clips on Semana.com of Barrera talking about cocaine exports and the Urabeños].

Barrera, a drug kingpin who has been compared to Pablo Escobar, was arrested in Venezuela in September then deported to Colombia. He was involved in the drug trafficking industry for more than 20 years, working with neo-paramilitary groups like the now-disbanded ERPAC, and rebel group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). He is now in a Colombian prison awaiting extradition to the US

Semana reports that the audio recordings are taken from hours of interrogation that Barrera underwent from Venezuelan and Colombian officials. The magazine notes that despite the many topics addressed by Barrera, one particularly controversial issue is left out of the recordings made available: alleged collaboration between Barrera's organization, the security forces, and other government authorities. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Some of Barrera's comments verge on being flippant. At one point, he states, "It's more difficult to go grocery shopping than to move 1,000 kilos [of cocaine]." On his expectations from the US, he says, "I'm going to collaborate with justice system and I'm going to hand over assets. But I can't hand over everything. I need something for my retirement."

Barrera was reportedly in talks with US authorities about turning himself in during the months leading up to his surrender, but the negotiations fell through. The tone of some of his remarks in the audio recordings paint a picture of a man who was never serious about giving himself up. 

Some of Barrera's other comments hint at a man who saw himself as abiding by his own moral code, in contrast to other Colombian crime lords. He says he ordered the April assassination of his former head hitman Jairo Saldarriaga, alias "Mojarro," because Saldarriaga planned to target Barrera's family in Argentina. "I couldn't permit that situation and so I ordered the job." Barrera complains that Mojarro was also acting "disrespectful. He was asking for money in my name, something I've always hated and detested." 

Barrera adds that he ordered the death of Yesid Nieto, a notorious emeralds trader, in 2007, because Nieto wanted Barrera to hand over a piece of land and was threatening to kill Barrera. "I couldn't let them kill me over nothing," Barrera states. "You only get one life."

Barrera then contrasts his own leadership style to other Colombian criminals, whom he depicts as morally bankrupt. The leader of the Urabeños criminal organization, Dario Antonio Usuga, alias "Otoniel," is "an animal," in Barrera's words.

"That guy doesn't deserve a chance. He's killed children over nothing... the guy's an animal. He's very dangerous... They're sickos who live to take things away from people and kill them." Barrera also criticizes another known Colombian warlord of the Eastern Plains, the now deceased Miguel Arroyave, as "crazy" for using torture on his enemies, including using a chainsaw. 

One of the ironies of such remarks is that Barrera is believed to own over a thousand hectares of land in Colombia's Eastern Plains, which belong to victims of the Colombian conflict. He also originally earned his nickname, "Madman," for the ruthless killings he ordered in revenge for the death of his brother, Omar, in the late 1980s. Barrera's critique of other Colombian crime lords for being deranged "animals" hints at his own skewed perception of himself as a business man who only takes violent action for "legitimate" reasons, such as when his family is threatened. 

While describing his cocaine trafficking operations, Barrera presents it as a straightforward business. In collaboration with several other drug traffickers, each one would buy 500 kilos of cocaine and deploy shipments of 1,000 to 2,000 kilos from areas like Colombia's Pacific coast. Barrera only bought his loads from the FARC, he states. 

When Barrera was arrested, the government described him as Colombia's "last capo." As indicated by the audio recordings made available by Semana, Barrera apparently did see himself as somewhat exceptional, following his own moral code in a risky business, in contrast to those around him. While the Urabeños are currently the organization best poised to become the dominant power in the Colombian drug trade, Barrera would seem to dispute that and he  may even consider himself irreplaceable. What's clear from his brash assertions is that he certainly was one of a kind. 

Linkedin
Google +

---

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We also encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, provided that it is attributed to InSight Crime in the byline, with a link to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

InSight Crime Search

The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas

InSight Crime Social

facebooktwittergooglelinkedin

InSight Crime Special Series

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

Los Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

After the capture of Zetas boss "Z40," Nuevo Laredo is bracing itself for the worst. This investigation breaks down what makes the city such an important trafficking corridor, and what it will take for the Zetas to maintain their grip on the city.

See entire series »

 

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill

Uruguay: Marijuana, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

Uruguay is poised to become the first country on the planet to regulate the production, sale, and distribution of the drug.

See entire series »

El Salvador's Gang Truce

El Salvador's Gang Truce

The truce between El Salvador's two largest gangs -- the MS-13 and the Barrio 18 -- opens up new possibilities in how to deal with

See entire series »

Juarez After The War

Juarez After The War

As a bitter war between rival cartels grinds to an end, Ciudad Juarez has lost the title of world murder capital, and is moving towards something more like normality.

See entire series »

The Zetas And The Battle For Monterrey

The Zetas and the Battle for Monterrey

InSight Crime delves into the Zetas' battle for Mexico’s industrial capital, Monterrey, getting to the essence of a criminal gang that defies easy definition.

See entire series »

Slavery in Latin America

Slavery in Latin America

InSight Crime coordinated an investigation into modern slavery, looking at how Latin America’s criminal groups traffic human beings and force them to work as slaves.

See entire series »

FARC, Peace and Criminalization

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is being dangled before Colombia. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, the enemies of the negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the process are high.

See entire series »

Displacement in Latin America

Displacement in Latin America

InSight Crime coordinated an investigation into the new face of displacement in Latin America, where organized criminal groups are expanding and forcing people to flee.

See entire series »

Target: Migrants

Target: Migrants

The growth of organized crime in Mexico and Central America has led to an increase in violence and insecurity across the region, posing challenges to citizens, public security forces, and travelers.

See entire series »

Zetas in Guatemala

The Zetas in Guatemala

Mexico's Zetas have taken Guatemala by storm, and they are testing this country and the rest of the region: fail this test, and Central America sinks deeper into the abyss.

See entire series »

Most Read

Guatemala, Honduras Presidents Blame US, Ignore Own Problems

Guatemala, Honduras Presidents Blame US, Ignore Own Problems

Presidents in Central America have blamed US drug policy for fueling the ongoing child migrant crisis, but the violence, unemployment and underdevelopment fueling this flight has more to do with the way the elites run...

Read more

Police, Gangs Behind Abuse of Honduras' LGBTI Community

Police, Gangs Behind Abuse of Honduras' LGBTI Community

The principal victimizers of Honduras' LGBTI community are police and criminal gangs, according to a new report by local rights groups, highlighting how discrimination against minorities relates to the security dynamic.

Read more

Nicaragua Cattle Smuggled to Honduras

Nicaragua Cattle Smuggled to Honduras

Cattle-running groups have reportedly illegally transported 22,000 heads of cattle from eastern Nicaragua to Honduras in three months, highlighting the size of a trade that allegedly relies on corrupt officials and large landowners. 

Read more

Latest Criminal Profile