Colombian authorities say that the Rastrojos gang were planning to meet with the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico City, which may have been an opportunity to discuss the future of their alliance following the capture of the Rastrojos’ top leadership.
Colombian police arrested four men who were allegedly planning a meeting between members of the Rastrojos and the Sinaloa Cartel in the Mexican capital, reports El Universal. The group reportedly met with various Sinaloa representatives in Bogota over the past few days to prepare for the trip.
According to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, Colombian law enforcement said they narrowly missed capturing another Rastrojos leader, Jose Leonardo Hortua Blandon, alias “Mascota” or “Enano,” after raiding the apartment in Bogota where the four detainees were living. An unnamed official told the newspaper that Blandon is the Rastrojos’ contact with the Sinaloa Cartel.
Colombian authorities consider Blandon one of the “heirs” to the leadership of the Rastrojos, after boss Diego Perez Henao, alias “Diego Rastrojo,” was arrested in June. The group’s other top commander, Javier Calle Serna, alias “Comba,” surrendered to US authorities in May.
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The alliance between the Rastrojos and the Sinaloa Cartel has been well documented. The Rastrojos control trafficking routes along Colombia’s Pacific Coast and across the Venezuelan border, shipping cocaine to Central America, while the Sinaloa Cartel moves shipments from there into the United States.
Blandon’s meetings with members of the Sinaloa Cartel, and the planned trip to Mexico City, suggest that he is trying to maintain the relationship with the powerful Mexican group amid the Rastrojos’ internal upheaval. The Rastrojos could still be an attractive business partner for the Mexicans. Thanks to its alliances with guerrilla groups such as the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Rastrojos enjoy direct access to coca base — the raw material for cocaine — at very low prices.