Colombian Police Commander General Oscar Naranjo complained that a former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) informant and drug traffickers in Miami were conspiring against him, a U.S. embassy cable revealed by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.
In the cable, a section titled “SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST NARANJO,” that is partially redacted, the cable says that, “XXXXXXXXXXXX said Baruch Vega, a drug trafficker who had served time in the United States and now resided in Miami, was conspiring with Don Mario and other extradited United Self- Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitaries to build a false case against him. He said that a number of his officers had reported being approached by these individuals seeking dirt on XXXXXXXXXXXX. He thought some smear was inevitable, and said he would share the information he had with U.S. law enforcement.”
Although redacted, the cable makes apparent that it’s Naranjo who is the “source.” Naranjo has fought for a long time to keep his image clean. His tactic: pre-empt the accusations. For example, in 2006, he revealed that his brother was arrested in Germany for drug trafficking, before news organizations got hold of the news.
Naranjo is an intelligence guru who has transformed the country’s police into the envy of the region. But his past is troublesome. He worked very closely with Danilo González, a Colombian police colonel who left the force in the 1990s and became the soul of the most feared criminal organization in Colombia, the Devil’s Cartel. González was assassinated in Bogotá in 2004, as he tried to broker a deal with the United States justice system.
Vega has his own long, sordid story. The Colombian fashion photographer has had contact with the Colombian underworld since the early 1980s. But he became an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the late 1980s, as the FBI sought to induce large traffickers to turn themselves in and turn state’s evidence.
Vega did similar work in the late 1990s with the DEA but ran into trouble with the U.S. legal system when it leaked that he was getting large sums of money from the traffickers for helping broker deals with U.S. agents and prosecutors to lower the traffickers’ sentences in return for their cooperation.
Gerardo Reyes, Nuestro hombre en la DEA (Bogotá, 2007).