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

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

In August 2002, the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) greeted Colombia's new president with a mortar attack that killed 14 people during his inauguration. The attack was intended as a warning to the fiercely anti-FARC newcomer. But it became the opening salvo of...

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

The United States -- which through its antinarcotics, judicial and police attaches was very familiar with the routes used for smuggling, and especially those used for people trafficking and understood that those traffickers are often one and the same -- greeted the new government of Elias Antonio...

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

In October 2012, the US Treasury Department designated the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) as a transnational criminal organization (TCO). While this assertion seems unfounded, there is one case that illustrates just why the US government is worried about the future.

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

When considering the possibilities that the FARC may break apart, the Ivan Rios Bloc is a helpful case study because it is perhaps the weakest of the FARC's divisions in terms of command and control, and therefore runs the highest risk of fragmentation and criminalization.

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

On May 27, 1964 up to one thousand Colombian soldiers, backed by fighter planes and helicopters, launched an assault against less than fifty guerrillas in the tiny community of Marquetalia. The aim of the operation was to stamp out once and for all the communist threat in...

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 leader Carlos Lechuga Mojica, alias "El Viejo Lin," is one of the most prominent spokesmen for El Salvador's gang truce. InSight Crime co-director Steven Dudley spoke with Mojica in Cojutepeque prison in October 2012 about how the maras view the controversial peace process, which has...

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

If we are to believe the Colombian government, the question is not if, but rather when, an end to 50 years of civil conflict will be reached. Yet the promise of President Juan Manuel Santos that peace can be achieved before the end of 2014 is simply...

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

Ricardo Mauricio Menesses Orellana liked horses, and the Pasaquina rodeo was a great opportunity to enjoy a party. He was joined at the event -- which was taking place in the heart of territory controlled by El Salvador's most powerful drug transport group, the Perrones -- by the...

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

While there is no doubt that the FARC have only a tenuous control over some of their more remote fronts, there is no evidence of any overt dissident faction within the movement at the moment.