HomeNewsAnalysisHead of the Once-Mighty Machos Surrenders
ANALYSIS

Head of the Once-Mighty Machos Surrenders

COLOMBIA / 12 APR 2011 BY JEREMY MCDERMOTT EN

The leader of the decimated Machos, a group once responsible for shipping hundreds of tons of cocaine to the US, has surrendered, while his bitter rivals, the Rastrojos, have become perhaps the most powerful drug trafficking organization in Colombia.

Hilber Nover Urdinola Perea, alias "Don H," turned himself into police in at his mother’s house in what was once the heartland of Macho territory, the municipality of Roldanillo, in the department of Valle del Cauca by the Pacific Coast. With his capture, the Machos, one of the seven recognized new generation narco-paramilitary groups, described by the government as BACRIMs ("bandas criminales" or criminal bands), may disappear, or be taken over by another gang.

Set up by Diego Montoya, alias "Don Diego," the Machos were an armed wing of the Norte Del Valle cartel, formed to fight a rival faction, headed by Wilber Varela, alias "Jabon," who set up in 2002 his own private army, the Rastrojos. The capture of Montoya by the Colombian military in September 2007 (he was extradited to the U.S. in December 2008) and the murder of his rival Varela in Venezuela in January 2008, brought to an end to the Norte Del Valle Cartel. However the war between the Machos and Rastrojos has continued as the new generation of drug traffickers battle it out.

Montoya and the Machos were at one time the most prolific exporters of cocaine to the U.S., believed responsible for shipping $10 billion worth of drugs. Montoya pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and obstruction of justice in the U.S. and was sentenced to 45 years in prison. His faction was quickly decimated with the capture of several key players in the Machos:

Gildardo Rodríguez Sierra, alias "Señor de la camisa roja," the founding commander of the Machos, was arrested in May 2008.

Jorge Ivan Urdinola Perea, alias 'La Iguana', the brother of the recently delivered "Don H," was arrested in June 2008 and extradited to the U.S. in November 2009. Oscar Varela Garcia, alias "Capachivo," was arrested in July 2008 and extradited in March 2010.

While the Machos have become but a shadow of their former selves, with their activity restricted to the northern part of Valle Del Cauca and into Choco, the Rastrojos have moved from strength to strength.  Varela was killed by his deputy, Luis Enrique Calle Serna, alias "Comba," who took over control of his organization, and expanded it away from its traditional base along the Pacific Coast, all the way across the country. Working with his brother Javier Antonio Calle Serna, alias "El Doctor," and the founding military head of the Rastrojos, Diego Perez Henao, alias "Diego Rastrojo," the group now has presence in more than 12 of Colombia’s 32 departments.

The remnants of the Machos may have already turned to the Rastrojos sworn enemy, the Urabeños, for support. The Urabeños are looking to gain footholds along the Pacific Coast, even as the Rastrojos have sent hundreds of armed man to open up routes in the Urabeños stronghold along the Caribbean Coast.

It seems likely that the Urabeños will scoop up the remnants of the Machos, those that have not defected to the Rastrojos, and use them to force open territory and routes in Valle Del Cauca, linking up with Urabeños units in Choco.

The Machos may be a spent force, but the war with the Rastrojos, which has cost hundreds, if not thousands of lives, looks set to continue.

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

ARGENTINA / 21 SEP 2011

Reports that two of Colombia’s most wanted drug traffickers traveled to Argentina to hold talks are only the latest evidence…

ARGENTINA / 4 NOV 2011

An Argentine court has sentenced a former Colombian beauty queen to six years and eight months in prison…

COLOMBIA / 30 JUL 2013

Authorities have dismantled a band allegedly contracted by the FARC to plant explosive devices in Bogota shops in exchange for…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…

THE ORGANIZATION

Exploring Climate Change and Organized Crime

10 SEP 2021

In July, InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley moderated a panel for the Climate Reality Project's regional series of workshops for young climate activists in the Americas. The week-long event…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gearing Up a New Class of Interns

3 SEP 2021

InSight Crime is readying its newest class of interns – from universities in Europe and the Americas – to begin investigative work on a number of high-impact projects. For the…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Environmental Crime in the Amazon

27 AUG 2021

Next week, InSight Crime launches an investigation – conducted with Brazilian think-tank the Igarapé Institute – on the sophisticated organized crime structures and armed groups that…