Gerson Adair Gálvez Calle AKA "Caracol" (The Snail), Peru's most wanted fugitive drug lord, was arrested by Colombian National Police at a shopping center in Medellín and promptly deported on May 1. National Police director Gen. Jorge Hernando Nieto called the apprehension "a powerful shot against transnational crime." Peruvian authorities had offered a reward of $150,000 for information leading to the arrest of El Caracol, who is considered Peru's biggest exporter of cocaine.
It remains to be seen if the bust will mean the end of El Caracol's network, headquartered in Callao, Peru's principal port. His local crime machine there, dubbed "Barrio King," is believed responsible for a string of murders in the city over the past years. In December, five suspected sicarios (hitmen) for the gang were ordered detained under "preventative detention" while investigations are pending against them.
Embarassingly, El Caracol himself was released from Callao's Sarita Prison in 2014, after serving 11 years of a 15-year sentence on a murder charge. He was released after expressing remorse for his crime. But authorities said he quickly went into hiding upon his release and assumed control of the Barrio King gang. It is now believed he may have been operating the network from Colombia.
Authorities say he is now headed for the maximum-security Challapalca prison, over 15,000 feet above sea level and more than 800 miles from Lima and Callao, in Peru’s southern region of Tacna. (Peru Reports, El Comercio, BBC News, May 1; RPP, Dec. 31)