Venezuela‘s Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol said that with the latest capture of a Colombian drug trafficker in Venezuelan territory, the country has arrested 94 crime bosses in the past six years.
Reverol revealed via his Twitter account that authorities had arrested the suspect, Juan Carlos Peña Silva, alias “Yerno,” on Margarita Island, some 20 miles off Venezuela’s eastern coast. Reverol Tweeted that Yerno was the subject of an Interpol Red Notice, and that he worked for a drug trafficking networke controlled by Victor Ramon Navarro, alias “Megateo.”
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that Colombian authorities had been tracking Yerno “for some time,” reported Infobae. The arrest was reportedly a joint operation between Venezuelan anti-drug authorities, the Venezuelan National Guard, and Colombian police intelligence.
Megateo, a Colombian national and a former member of guerrilla group the Popular Liberation Army (EPL), currently has a $5 million reward on his head from the US State Department.
InSight Crime Analysis
Yerno’s arrest appears to form part of a wider law enforcement campaign against Megateo’s network. In September, Colombian authorities arrested 14 alleged members of his drug trafficking ring in cities throughout Colombia, including Bogota and Medellin.
The capture highlights the heightened cooperation between Venezuelan and Colombian law enforcement, in a year which has seen the capture of many of Colombia’s big-name drug capos, including brash trafficker Daniel “El Loco” Barrera. Minister Reverol said earlier this week that Venezuela has captured 18 leaders of criminal organizations in collaboration with Colombia so far in 2012. Venezuela is often used as a refuge by Colombian drug traffickers.
Reverol also has reason to highlight Venezuela’s achievements. He is a former head of the Anti-Narcotics Office who was appointed as interior minister in October, and is likely under pressure to show results. He is also a general of the National Guard, elements of which are deeply involved in Venezuela’s cocaine export industry. Reverol is also among several generals that captured Venezuelan drug trafficker Walid Makled has accused of corruption.