A former member of the Medellin Cartel who served a 10-year sentence in the United States was assassinated a month after returning to Colombia, in what looks like a revenge killing for his collaboration with US authorities.
Alejandro Bernal Madrigal, alias “Juvenal,” was shot to death outside a restaurant in Cajica municipality, north of Bogota, on November 29. He had only been back in the country for one month after serving a 10-year prison sentence in the United States for drug trafficking, reported El Tiempo.
Juvenal, a former member of Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel, was arrested in Colombia in 1999 as part of Operation Milenio and extradited two years later. He was convicted by a US court of sending more than 30 tons of cocaine to the United States, but successfully negotiated a reduction in his sentence in exchange for testifying against Fabio Ochoa, another Medellin Cartel member who was detained in Operation Milenio.
According to a source interviewed by El Tiempo, Juvenal spent time in Panama following his release, for his own security, but his family convinced him to come to Colombia.
No information has been released on suspects in the case.
InSight Crime Analysis
Operation Milenio was a multi-country effort that uncovered links between some of Colombia’s most powerful drug traffickers and Mexico’s Milenio Cartel. It marked the second time that Juvenal had been arrested; he spent three years in prison in Mexico from 1989-1992, which reportedly helped him to build up relationships with Mexican drug trafficking organizations.
Juvenal gave evidence that contributed to Fabio Ochoa receiving a 30-year sentence in 2003. This would put Ochoa among those who might want revenge on the slain capo.
Juvenal's assassination highlights the dangers for Colombian criminals of returning home after completing prison sentences in the United States. Throughout their careers, crime bosses can accumulate a number of enemies who are waiting for the right moment to retaliate. The killing of "Cocaine Queen" Griselda Blanco earlier this year is an illustration of this. As a former Miami police investigator said, "When you kill so many and hurt so many people like she did, it’s only a matter of time before they find you and try to even the score."