HomeColombiaMarcos de Jesus Figueroa Garcia, alias 'Marquitos'
COLOMBIA

Marcos de Jesus Figueroa Garcia, alias 'Marquitos'

COLOMBIA / LATEST UPDATE 2016-11-17 14:46:48 EN

Marcos de Jesus Figueroa Garcia, alias "Marquitos," is a powerful underworld figure in Colombia's northeast provinces of La Guajira and Cesar, whose reach extends deep into the region's political establishment. He built his criminal network around smuggling drugs and contraband gasoline between Venezuela and Colombia, and formed a criminal-political axis with La Guajira's corrupt former Governor Juan Francisco "Kiko" Gomez, which was allegedly behind a series of political murders. Figueroa was captured in October 2014.

History

Born into a poor family of Wayuu indigenous ancestry, Figueroa grew up in the La Guajira municipality of Barrancas, where he earned the nickname "Marquitos" ("Little Marcos") due to his small stature. By the early 1990s, Marquitos had established a criminal sphere of influence in cross-border illegal activities such as contraband smuggling. In the mid-1990s he was arrested and imprisoned in Santa Marta but in 1998 he escaped alongside two other inmates in a plot involving a dump truck knocking down a section of the prison wall.

Marquitos Factbox

DOB: Unknown

Group: Head of private army of an estimated 200 men

Criminal Activities: Drug trafficking, contraband fuel smuggling, contract killing.

Status: Captured

Area of Operation: La Guajira, Cesar (Colombia) and parts of Venezuela

Marquitos fled to Alta Guajira and began working for Jorge Gnecco Cerchar -- the leader of a powerful criminal-political clan, which has produced a governors and senators and whose influence continues today.

Gnecco Cerchar had established a working relationship with paramilitary commander Hernan Giraldo in the mid-90s, and he began participating in drug trafficking. This arrangement was shaken by the incursion of the Northern Bloc of Colombia's largest paramilitary group at the time, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia - AUC), led by Rodrigo Tovar, alias "Jorge 40." When war broke out between Giraldo and Jorge 40, the latter came out victorious and in 2001 Jorge 40 had Gnecco Cerchar murdered.

Throughout this time, Figueroa's influence grew, as he developed an intimate knowledge of the smuggling routes and players involved in contraband gasoline and drug trafficking through the region. Following Jorge 40's assassination of Gnecco Cerchar and several more of Marquitos' underworld allies, Marquitos fled to Venezuela to avoid the same fate.

SEE ALSO: United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia

There he established a formidable criminal setup, which included smuggling contraband fuel and establishing a cooperative of low and mid-ranking drug exporters that stockpiling cocaine and, according to local rumor, sending it into Venezuela hidden in gasoline tanks, which then returned full of cash and contraband gasoline.

After the demobilization of Jorge 40 and the paramilitaries, Marquitos returned to Colombia, where he began providing financial and armed backing to corrupt politicians, and operated as the armed wing of Kiko Gomez's political bloc as it took power in municipalities around the region. Figueroa stands accused of helping Gomez's expansion by murdering several opponents.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Colombia Groups

After Gomez's arrest shone a spotlight on Figueroa's organization, the net began to close. In February 2014, Figueroa was convicted in absentia by a Bogota court of a triple homicide that took place in La Guajira in 2011. Later that month he was added to the Colombian National Police's "most wanted list," with a $150,000 reward offered for information leading to his capture. Police began making inroads to his organization with a series of arrests of key figures, until finally they captured Figueroa himself in Brazil in October 2014.

Criminal Activities

Figueroa was a major player in the regional drug trade but his real power came from his control over the contraband gasoline trade. As well as smuggling his own gas, Figueroa also controlled main smuggling routes and sales points and anyone involved in the trade had to pay his "quota." He is also implicated in a string of political assassinations.

Geography

Figueroa's main areas of operations are his native state La Guajira and neighboring Cesar in the north eastern Colombian border region. He often used Venezuela as a refuge and was hiding out in Brazil when captured.

Allies and Enemies

Former La Guajira governor Juan Francisco "Kiko" Gomez, now imprisoned on murder charges, was long a key ally of Figueroa, and his political influence is believed to extend throughout the region. Figueroa is also thought to work have been working with the Urabeños criminal organization in La Guajira, although the extent of their collaboration remains unclear..

Prospects

Figueroa was arrested in October 2014, leaving his criminal-political network facing an uncertain future.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 3 OCT 2022

Colombian guerrillas evolved from seeing Venezuela as a safe place to retreat to seeing it as a full-blown expansion of…

COCA / 12 JUL 2022

The historic publication of the Final Report from Colombia’s Truth Commission has crystallized the core issues that president-elect Gustavo Petro…

COLOMBIA / 14 JUN 2022

The Colombian army has killed two more important dissident FARC leaders in the north and the west of the country.

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…