Colombia’s Police say they have killed one of Colombia’s top drug traffickers, Pedro Guerrero Castillo, alias “Cuchillo,” or “Knife,” in a shootout in the eastern province of Meta.
Police Special Forces engaged him and his bodyguards near the town of Mapiripan. In the gunfight one of his bodyguards was killed and another seven members of his group, including his number two, Harold Humberto Rojas, alias “Loco Harold,” were captured.
Police believe that Guerrero was wounded in the gun fight but managed to escape, later dying of his wounds, according to Caracol Radio in Colombia. His body, which is undergoing a formal identification, was found in the jungle. Newspapers and media outlets, such as El Tiempo, are also saying Guerrero is dead.
Guerrero commanded a 1200-strong group which he called the Popular Revolutionary Antiterrorist Army of Colombia (ERPAC). It controls much of the drug trade on the eastern plains of Colombia and is believed responsible for smuggling hundreds of tons of cocaine, principally via Venezuela. Guerrero had a $1.25 million reward on his head.
It’s not clear who will take over ERPAC. Guerrero worked closely with one of Colombia’s most wanted drug traffickers, Daniel Barrera, alias “El Loco,” who is still at large. He also had a working relationship with the rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), from whom he bought coca base which he later processed into cocaine. But there is no clear successor, and the group could divide into mini-groups, posing a different type of challenge to Colombian authorities.
Guerrero is the second big criminal figure police have located and killed in recent months in the Eastern Plains region in Colombia. In September, authorities killed Jorge Briceño Suarez, alias “Mono Jojoy,” the military commander of the FARC in an aerial bombardment after police intelligence tracked him to his camp using a hidden GPS device hidden in the rebel’s shoe.
InSight Crime will continue to follow this event with more news and analysis in the coming days.