Weapons seized from Colombian "hitman ring"

Spanish police have dismantled an alleged network of Colombian hitmen in a case that highlights the foothold that Colombian criminal groups retain in the country -- and the growing influence of Mexican cartels.

Police announced the capture of seven members of a collection "office," who worked on behalf of Colombian drug traffickers, allegedly beating, kidnapping or murdering those who owed the traffickers money, reported El Pais. The arrests followed a 16-month investigation by the Spanish authorities.

The alleged leader of the gang, Luis David Garcia, alias "El Conejo," has previously been linked to a criminal group known as "Los Señores del Acido" (The Lords of Acid) because of their alleged habit of dissolving their victims in acid, reported 20 minutos.

The Señores del Acido were known to have worked closely with the Calle Serna brothers -- Colombian traffickers who were key figures in the Norte del Valle Cartel and its successors the Rastrojos -- a connection that El Conejo is believed to have maintained.

Police arrested the seven gang members on weapons charges, after catching them in possession of an arsenal that included five rifles, two AK-47s, pistols with silencers, two shotguns and an anti-tank grenade launcher. According to the police, the gang intended to transfer the weapons to Mexican traffickers, linked to the Sinaloa Cartel, for use in an attack on their debtors, reported 20 Minutos.

InSight Crime

The Rastrojos' presence in Europe has until now bucked the trend of Colombian organizations ceding trafficking routes to the increasingly powerful Mexican cartels, and the group has retained a significant presence in the European country. However, this may not be the case for long.

Over the last year, the Rastrojos has been in disarray; all its top leaders have been arrested or surrendered, while the remnants of the group have been struggling to combat the advances of rivals the Urabeños in key strategic areas, especially in their heartland in Valle del Cauca province.

From the information provided by the police, it appears El Conejo and his gang had close ties to the Rastrojos, but, with the fracturing of the organization, were looking elsewhere for new contracts -- including Mexican cartels.

This scenario fits the analysis of European police force Europol, which in its 2012 report on drugs and trafficking in Europe, identified Colombian organizations as the only Latin American criminal groups to have a significant presence in Europe beyond simple trafficking connections, but warned of the growing presence of Mexican cartels.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy. Unlike their paramilitary and drug cartel predecessors, the BACRIM maintain a diversified...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network. The BACRIM's roots lie in the demobilized paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power. In rural sectors, uniformed BACRIM armed with assault rifles still patrol in...