A member of Colombia’s AUC, Rafael Alvarez Piñeda, alias “Chepe,” demobilized in 2006, going on to lead the paramilitary successor group the Paisas, but later switched sides to the rival Urabeños. His involvement in illicit activities would lead to his capture in 2013.
Rafael Alvarez Piñeda, alias “Chepe,” demobilized from the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) in 2006. He later became a leader of paramilitary successor group the Paisas, before switching sides to work with the rival Urabeños.
Chepe got his start in the Mineros Bloc of the AUC, fighting alongside Cesar Torres, alias “Mono Vides,” under the command of Ramiro Vanoy, alias “Cuco,” who is now jailed in the United States for drug trafficking.
Criminal Activities: Drug trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, murder
Area of Operation: Antioquia, Colombia
But Chepe did not stay loyal to his former commander, and reportedly masterminded the kidnapping of four of Cuco Vanoy’s sons in December 2008, for which he is said to have collected $25 million in ransom.
Chepe did remain an ally of Mono Vides, also a Paisas commander, even as some sub-lieutenants chose to break away from the group in favor of partnerships with other organizations. However, after Mono Vides was killed by the army in October 2010, Chepe left the Paisas to join the rival Urabeños. He and fellow Paisas boss German Bustos Alarcon, alias “El Puma,” were recruited by Urabeños boss Roberto Vargas Gutierrez, alias “Gavilan,” who was also a former member of the Mineros Bloc.
As an Urabeños commander, Chepe was believed to work with his former enemies from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group, making business alliances in the interests of drug trafficking.
Chepe was captured by Colombian police on August 25, 2013 at a ranch in Caceres, also in Bajo Cauca.
Chepe allegedly controlled extortion of local businesses and farmers in the Bajo Cauca reigon, in addition to controlling the area’s drug trafficking routes and moving cocaine for the Urabeños.
Chepe’s stronghold was in Taraza, in the Bajo Cauca region of Antioquia province.
Allies and Enemies
With the AUC, Chepe was enemies with the FARC. Yet, after leaving the Paisas for the Urabeños, he reportedly began working with elements of the FARC to facilitate drug trafficking activities.
Chepe was arrested by Colombian authorities in August 2013.