Colombia: blows against narco-para network?

Erikson Vargas AKA “Sebastian”—purported leader of the MedellĂ­n-based crime syndicate Oficina de Envigado—was captured by Colombian National Police on Aug. 8. in Copacabana, a town just outside the country’s second-largest city. Police said one of Sebastian’s bodyguards was killed when police stormed his hideout. President Juan Manuel Santos praised the arrest as a “super-blow” against organized crime and promised a “gold medal to the police” for the capture. (Colombia Reports, BBC News, Aug. 8) That same day, Luis Fernando Jaramillo Arroyave AKA “Nano”—a top commander of Los Urabeños paramilitary group—was extradited to the US on drug trafficking charges. Nano, also said to have founded Los Paisas paramilitary group, was captured in MedellĂ­n in February 2011 and later sentenced nine months on charges of murder, drug trafficking and conspiracy. (Colombia Reports, Aug. 8)

Of the paramilitaries that have emerged since the official “demobilization” of the United Colombian Self-Defense (AUC) network—known as “neo-paramilitaries,” or “bacrim” for “criminal bands”—Los Paisas are said to be that most closely linked to the Oficina de Envigado, itself held to be heir to the old MedellĂ­n Cartel. Los Paisas have split with Los Urabeños since the 2009 assassination of JosĂ© Miguel Arroyave AKA “Arcángel” by a rival in the movement, Pedro Oliveiro Guerrero AKA “Cuchillo.” Los Urabeños, said to be a survival of the AUC’s Centaurs Bloc, have since affiliated with the Popular Revolutionary Anti-terrorist Army of Colombia (ERPAC), which aspires to succeed the AUC as a nationwide paramilitary network. In addition to operating in Antioquia department and northern Urabá region, ERPAC controls large territories on Colombia’s eastern plains, where access to the Brazilian and Venezuelan borders affords it strategic sway over the cocaine trade. (JusTF, June 21, 2011; InSight Crime)

See our last posts on Colombia, the paramilitaries and the hemispheric narco wars.