Colombian authorities detained 14 alleged members of one of the country’s lesser known drug trafficking networks, run by a former member of the EPL guerrilla group, alias “Megateo.”
The 14 suspected traffickers were arrested in cities throughout Colombia, including Bogota and Medellin, in a joint operation conducted by Colombian officials and US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents on September 10 and 11. The detained face extradition to the United States to answer charges that they belong to an international drug trafficking ring run by former Popular Liberation Army (EPL) fighter Victor Ramon Navarro, alias “Megateo.”
Authorities said the group is responsible for trafficking some 2 tons of cocaine to Europe and the United States, reported El Espectador.
During the operation the attorney general’s investigative branch, the CTI, reportedly discovered that Megateo has been able to evade capture using a series of tunnels in his stronghold in Norte de Santander province.
InSight Crime Analysis
The EPL, which demobilized in 1991, has spawned many of Colombia’s present-day gang leaders, among them Rastrojos head Javier Calle Serna, alias “Comba,” who is now in US custody, and Urabeños leader Dario Antonio Usuga. For his part, Megateo has continued to lead a faction of ex-EPL fighters and remained in Norte de Santander, where he is instrumental in the drug trade, operating as a broker for coca base and cocaine deals.
The Colombian government has offered a reward of $1 million for information leading to Megateo’s capture, and the US has indicted him on drug trafficking charges with a reward offer of $5 million.
While the latest round of arrests suggests the ring may be tightening around Megateo, he is not without his allies in the Colombian authorities. In July 2011 a soldier was arrested for attempting to traffic ammunition to Megateo’s faction, while in June this year a CTI agent was arrested for complicity in his trafficking operations.