Police Arrest Link Between Colombia’s Rastrojos, Mexico Cartels

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Authorities captured an alleged link between Colombia trafficking organization the Rastrojos and Mexico drug cartels in Panama. The suspect had been granted political asylum in Panama, underscoring the diverse networks and reach maintained by the Rastrojos and their Mexican counterparts.

Alex Antonio Moreno Delgadillo, alias “Alex Caballo,” was arrested in Panama City, where he had been living since 2011. The alleged trafficker was granted political asylum in Panama after fleeing Colombia because of a dispute with another Rastrojos leader, reported Radio Santa Fe.

Colombian police persuaded the Panamanian authorities to withdraw Alex Caballo’s political asylum by presenting evidence that he was wanted in Colombia for extortion, homicide and drug trafficking. He was then captured and deported to Colombia where he will face these charges.

According to Colombian police, Alex Caballo acted as the Rastrojos’ link to Mexican cartels, among them the Zetas. He also managed profits from the Rastrojos’ micro-trafficking and extortion activities.

InSight Analysis

The Rastrojos have a long history of working with Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, dating back to the Colombian group’s origins in the Norte Del Valle Cartel. The two cartels traditionally move cocaine shipments by sea from the Pacific coast.

However, a recent press report suggested the group has also been working with the Sinaloa Cartel’s bitter rivals, the Zetas. The alliance quickly became the dominant force in the Venezuelan border region, allowing the two groups to move several hundred tons of drugs through that nation.

Police comments about the arrest of Alex Caballo would suggest the Rastrojos continue to work with more than one cartel in Mexico, maintaining diverse networks and staying out of Mexico’s internal turf disputes.

Alex Caballo’s presence in Panama, while convenient for maintaining Mexican contacts, seems to be indicative of internal divisions in the Rastrojos, which increasingly appears to be operating as a fragmented, decentralized network.

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