The leader of the Machos, who has been captured in Colombia

Colombian police have captured the alleged head of the once-mighty Machos drug gang, in a blow to his allies in the Urabeños, and their campaign to push rivals the Rastrojos out of southwest Colombia

Hector Mario Urdinola, alias "Chicho," was hiding on a farm in the department of Meta when he was arrested by Colombia's judicial police (DIJIN), who had been tracking him for a year and a half, reported El Tiempo.

Chicho assumed control of the remnants of the Machos, once the armed wing of the Norte del Valle cartel, after then-leader Hilber Nover Urdinola Perea, alias "Don H," turned himself in to police in 2011.

Later that year, Chico negotiated the sale of trafficking routes in Colombia's southwest to neo-paramilitary organization the Urabeños, according to a report in Cali newspaper El Pais.

The sale allowed the Urabeños to gain a foothold in the Valle del Cauca region -- a major drug trafficking hub -- sparking a violent turf war with their main rivals, drug gang the Rastrojos.

Although the Rastrojos have been severely by weakened by the loss of key leadership figures over the last year, the violence has continued, and, according to La Semana, Chicho and his associates are believed to have been responsible for much of it, including the high profile killing of Lorena Henao Montoya -- “the widow of the mafia.”

InSight Analysis

While the sale of the Valle del Cauca plaza to the Urabeños essentially marked the end of the Machos as an independent criminal organization, it appears Chicho used the backing of the Urabeños to increase his personal power and influence in the region, and remained a major player in the Valle del Cauca underworld.

According to Semana, Chicho had been working closely with traffickers known as "Martin Bala" and "El Negro Orlando," to exterminate the remnants of the Rastrojos and seize control of the trafficking routes and properties left by the Rastrojos' decimated leadership. In 2012, leader Javier Calle Serna, alias “Comba,” surrendered to the authorities, and Diego Perez Henao, alias “Diego Rastrojo,” was arrested in Venezuela.

All three have long-established ties to organized crime in the region, and their dispute with the Rastrojos dates back to the break-up of the Norte del Valle cartel.

The newcomers in this regional territorial dispute -- the Urabeños -- may suffer from his arrest as they have lost a key local contact. However, with the Rastrojos in disarray and the Urabeños in the ascendancy, it may also free the way for them to assert their own control, without having to share power and profits with local partners.

Investigations

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

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.

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...

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.

'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...

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...

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.

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 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...

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...