Colombia Arrests Member of ‘Drug Trafficking Directors Board’

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    Colombian police have captured Luis Fernando Otalvaro, alias “El Matematico,” believed to be a mid-level boss of an influential transnational drug trafficking network.

    The deputy director of Colombia’s police intelligence service (DIJIN), Luis Humberto Poveda, said that Otalvaro was arrested on January 17 in a Medellin airport as he attempted to board a plane bound for Cali.

    According to Humberto, Otalvaro was a lieutenant in the Junta Directiva del Narcotrafico, or Drug Trafficking Directors Board, a group which is responsible for sending drug shipments from Colombia to the United States via Central America. The Junta, also known as the El Dorado Cartel, was led by Luis Agustin Caicedo Velandia, alias “Don Lucho,” until his arrest in June 2010.

    InSight Crime Analysis

    As InSight Crime has reported, the Junta is believed to have worked with one of Colombia’s most powerful drug kingpins, Daniel Barrera, alias “El Loco,” shipping up to 8 tons of cocaine a month to Europe and the US at its peak. The group is also accused of laundering millions of dollars through Colombian soccer teams.

    Police also claim that that the group has links to Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, as well as the 43rd Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

    The case of the Junta is a good illustration of the changing dynamics of the hemispheric drug trade. Today, the heavy hitters are the Mexican groups, who hold a far larger share of the market and are becoming increasingly active in controlling the flow of drugs through Central America. While more powerful Colombian groups like Barrera’s network are active outside the country, like the Junta they generally rely on connections to a number of criminal organizations in other countries to move their product, This is a far cry from the criminal landscape of the 1980s, when it was dominated by large Colombian cartels who paid Mexicans to transport drugs across the border into the US.

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