HomeNewsAnalysisColombian Capo ‘Mi Sangre’ Captured in Argentina
ANALYSIS

Colombian Capo 'Mi Sangre' Captured in Argentina

COLOMBIA / 31 OCT 2012 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

The head of Colombian gang the Urabeños was arrested in Buenos Aires, drawing attention to Argentina's status as a refuge for big-name Colombian traffickers, and raising the question of whether the capture will handicap the Urabeños' expansion.

Henry de Jesus Lopez, alias "Mi Sangre," was arrested in a Buenos Aires supermarket on October 30 in the company of his wife and 10 bodyguards, reports El Tiempo. He was a top leader of the Urabeños, a drug trafficking organization whose powerbase is along Colombia's Caribbean coast. Mi Sangre was reportedly in charge of overseeing the Urabeños' assault on Medellin, Colombia's second-largest city, where the criminal group already controls many peripheral neighborhoods. 

According to El Tiempo, Mi Sangre arrived in Argentina in 2010 and traveled frequently between Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Uruguay. He was in Buenos Aires posing as a Venezuelan businessman, and was reportedly applying for a visa to live in Ecuador. 

El Tiempo reports that the gang leader was finally arrested thanks to intelligence from an informant, who will likely receive a $1.2 million reward. The newspaper also describes the sophisticated intelligence operations that tracked Mi Sangre's movements in Buenos Aires, including a satellite device hidden in one of his cars. 

Mi Sangre had a long criminal career. He started out in Medellin mafia organization the Oficina de Envigado, before joining paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), formally demobilized from the AUC in 2005. But like many other demobilized fighters he re-entered the criminal world, and joined the Urabeños' operations in the Uraba region of northern Antioquia. His importance within the Urabeños hierarchy increased after the head of the group's military wing, Juan de Dios Usuga, alias "Giovanni," was killed in January 2012. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The 41-year-old Mi Sangre was known in Colombia for his ability to evade capture and to survive in the criminal underworld even as many of his peers were arrested and killed. The fact that he was finally arrested abroad (there was no arrest warrant issued against him in Colombia until March 2012) is testimony to the kind of inter-agency, transnational cooperation needed to capture elusive drug capos. According to El Tiempo, Colombian judicial police the DIJIN, Argentine intelligence, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Interpol all participated in the intelligence operations that eventually resulted in Mi Sangre's arrest.

The capture also calls attention to the number of high-profile Colombian criminals who have found refuge in the Argentine capital. A hitman who worked for Daniel "El Loco" Barrera was gunned down in Buenos Aires in April, and Barrera's wife was also arrested in the city that month. According to El Tiempo, Mi Sangre was specifically ordered by Urabeños leader Dario Antonio Usuga, alias "Otoniel," to leave Colombia for safety reasons, and use Argentina as his new hide-out. All this points to Argentina's status as an area of rest and recuperation for Colombia drug traffickers looking to lie low. 

The question now is whether Mi Sangre's arrest will slow the expansion of the Urabeños. Virtually all of Colombia's major drug trafficking groups have lost their heads of operations in the past two years: Barrera was arrested in September, the Rastrojos lost their military head and their top leader this year, and the Oficina de Envigado saw its commander (and his rival) fall. Mi Sangre's capture is proof that the Urabeños are not immune.

All this is testament to the ability of Colombian authorities to track down and arrest the heads of criminal organizations. But while it is clear that Colombian law enforcement has mastered the "decapitation" approach, the challenge of dismantling criminal networks remains. 

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 / 17 APR 2017

Authorities in Colombia have arrested one of Spain's "most wanted" suspects and their Spanish counterparts have dismantled a Colombian-led drug…

COLOMBIA / 26 JAN 2017

Recent reports warn that one of Colombia's biggest criminal groups may be recruiting dissident guerrilla fighters, another indication that new…

COLOMBIA / 28 OCT 2020

The reintegration process for demobilized FARC fighters in Colombia’s Eastern Plains is under threat by ex-FARC Mafia groups looking to…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.