Rastrojos Leader Running Gang from Prison: Report

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A captured leader of the Rastrojos drug gang, “Diego Rastrojo,” is reportedly still running the gang’s illegal activities from the prison where he is awaiting extradition to the US, relying on corrupt officials for access to the outside world.

Since his arrest in Venezuela on June 3, Diego Perez Henao, alias “Diego Rastrojo,” has continued to oversee the Rastrojos’ operations from his cell in La Picota maximum security prison in Bogota, reported Caracol Radio, citing anonymous “foreign intelligence” sources.

Perez reportedly conducts his illicit activities via two Blackberry phones which he purchased from prison guards at a price of 5 million pesos each (around US $2,800). Every two weeks the phones are allegedly replaced by officials for the same fee. Perez is also said to pay for prostitutes and alcohol multiples times a week, according to Caracol Radio.

The foreign intelligence sources cited by Caracol reportedly consider Perez “practically as active and dangerous” now as when he was free, due to his ability to give direct orders to his lieutenants.  According to Semana, video recordings show Perez receiving frequent visits from people passing themselves off as either lawyers or family members.

InSight Crime Analysis

La Picota is known for prisoner escapes and offering special treatment to powerful inmates. Daniel Rendon Herrera, alias “Don Mario,” is believed to still run the Urabeños from his cell in La Picota, while earlier this month, Erick Vargas Cardona, alias “Sebastian,” was transferred from La Picota to the maximum security prison of Combita in Boyaca province due to reports that he was continuing to lead the Oficina de Envigado gang from behind bars.

Diego Rastrojo is the last of the main Rastrojos leaders left in Colombia after Javier Calle Serna and his brother, Luis Enrique, handed themselves over to US authorities in May and October respectively. The fall of the three leaders left open the question of who would fill the leadership void, though it appears Diego Rastrojo may still be firmly in command, for now.

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