Colombia scores blow against Valle Cartel

Colombian security forces arrested 112 suspected members of the powerful Norte del Valle Cartel May 20. The heavily-armed unit belonging to the cartel’s paramilitary arm, Los Rastrojos surrendered in an area of Chocó department near the border with Panama. They were surrounded in a Colombian military operation involving army and naval units.

The cartel is headed by Luis Enrique Calle AKA “Combatant.” A US federal judge last month sentenced Eugenio Montoya, another senior member the cartel, to 30 years in prison for conspiring to traffic drugs and obstruction of justice. Montoya pleaded guilty to both charges in January after reaching an agreement with federal prosecutors. Eugenio’s brother Diego Montoya AKA “Don Diego”—the reputed former leader of the cartel—is awaiting trial before the same federal court in Miami. (BBC News, May 21; EFE, April 28)

On May 21, the Venezuelan government announced the capture of another of Colombia’s most wanted criminals, Wilmer Ignacio Guerrero Ibáñez AKA “Nacho”—who was captured in the tourist town of Tucacas, 251 kilometers west of Caracas. Local media say that “Nacho” is the right-hand man of Miguel Villarreal Archila AKA “Salomón”—who took over the drug empire of “Jorge 40” when the paramilitary leader demobilized. Venezuelan authorities say “Nacho” will be extradited to Colombia. (Colombia Reports, May 21)

See our last posts on Colombia and the paramilitaries.

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