Twin brothers accused of coordinating drug trafficking operations from Colombia's San Andres Island to parts of Central America have been arrested in Honduras and Panama, as they celebrated their birthdays.
The brothers, Amaury and Mario Smith Pomare, known as "Los Mellos," were captured January 19 and have since been extradited to Colombia. Amaury was arrested in the port city of La Ceiba, Honduras, while Mario was detained in Panama City. According to Colombian police chief Jose Roberto Leon Riaño, the two were enjoying their birthdays with plenty of liquor and women before police interrupted the celebrations in the early hours of the morning.
The two have reportedly been involved in the drug trade for over 20 years, coordinating the movement of go-fast boats from San Andres island to nearby Central American nations like Nicaragua, just 140 miles away. They reportedly established an alliance with the Colombian criminal group the Rastrojos three years ago before opting to set up their own drug trafficking network. In a sign of their growing influence, last year President Juan Manuel Santos offered a 200 million peso reward (about $113,000) for their capture.
InSight Crime Analysis
The targeting of suspected drug traffickers during festive celebrations is a strategy that seems to be paying off. The Colombian security forces memorably managed to arrest the leadership of the neo-paramilitary group the Popular Revolutionary Anti-Terrorist Army of Colombia (ERPAC) during Christmas 2010, while the group's top commander, alias "Cuchillo," wandered away drunk and drowned in a nearby stream after being wounded. Colombian police also arrested Urabeños drug trafficker, alias "Fritanga," last year during a luxury wedding celebration, and the group's leader Juan de Dios Usuga, alias "Giovanni," was killed during a New Year's party in January 2012.
The capture of the Pomare brothers raises the question of who will assume control of San Andres' drug trafficking network. The island has long been an important stopover point for cocaine shipments traveling from South to Central America. Reports last year signaled that the Urabeños are currently fighting rival drug gangs the Paisas and the Rastrojos for control of the island.
In May 2012, the Rastrojos leader, Javier Calle Serna, alias "Comba," surrendered to US authorities and gave up many of his contacts and associates. The Mellos may have been arrested thanks to his information.