HomeNewsAnalysisStar Witness and Ex-Colombian Druglord Returns Wanting Revenge
ANALYSIS

Star Witness and Ex-Colombian Druglord Returns Wanting Revenge

COLOMBIA / 25 NOV 2011 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

After becoming a key witness for the DEA, one of the former members of the Cali Cartel is reportedly back in his old territory and waging a bitter war against one of the most powerful drug gangs in Colombia, with up to 500 dead already.

Colombian newspaper El Espectador reported that Victor Patiño Fomeque, a former associate of the Cali Cartel, is engaging in a war against the heirs of Cali and the Norte del Valle Cartels, the Rastrojos.

Patiño was extradited to the U.S. in 2002 and served a reduced sentence after becoming a witness for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). While Patiño named names, his former associates back in Colombia began methodically killing off members of his family. According to some accounts at least 35 members of the Patiño Fomeque clan were killed.

Patiño returned to Colombia in 2010 and began plotting revenge. The new generation of gunmen, now grouped under the Rastrojos, have replaced the Cali and Norte Del Valle Cartels, controlling drug trafficking along the Pacific Coast. To strike back against the Rastrojos, including their leader Javier Antonio Calle Serna, alias "Comba," and his brother Luis Enrique Calle Serna, Patiño struck a deal with a rival group, the Caribbean-based Urabeños, who provided him with men and arms. Already battling the Rastrojos in northern departments like Antioquia and Santander, the Urabeños were interested in confronting the Calle Serna brothers on their home turf.

So far this year the resulting gang war is behind at least 500 murders in southwest states like Valle del Cauca and Nariño, police told El Espectador. Patiño, believed to run most of his operations from Ecuador, is now thought to control an armed group of up to 1,000 combatants.

Patiño is also reportedly receiving aid from another former Norte del Valle Cartel associate. This partner, Martin Fernando Baron, alias "Martin Bala," has his own reasons to try and lash back at the Calle Sernas: they reportedly tried to have him killed in 2005.

Baron played a leading role in the Cali mafia wars between 2003 and 2008 that later inspired the Colombian television show, "The Cartel of the Snitches" (El Cartel de los Sapos). Bala fought for Diego Montoya, alias "Don Diego," who led a rival gang known as the Machos. This private army was set up to fight the Rastrojos, then led by·Wilson Varela, alias "Jabon." Varela commanded the Calle Serna brothers, until they had him killed in Venezuela in January 2008, most likely with some help from Daniel Barrera. Montoya was arrested in 2007 and extradited to the U.S. the following year. The Norte del Valle Cartel now longer exists, but the return of Patiño has re-ignited old grievances and prompted challenges to the Rastrojos hegemony.

Police have previously denied that the Urabeños are making inroads in the Pacific southwest. But with murder rates steadily rising in Nariño, Valle del Cauca and that department's capital, Cali, it seems plausible that the violence is partly caused by the Urabeños' attempted entry into the region, working with Patiño's men.

According to El Espectador, Patiño is a former cop who learned the geography of the Pacific Coast very well. When he he began working with the Norte del Valle Cartel, he used this knowledge to smuggle cocaine from Colombia's Western coast, heading operations in the port city Buenaventura.

Patiño turned himself in to police in 1995 but by 1997, he was back on the streets running his drug business again. Five years later, he was arrested again and extradited to the U.S. Now he appears to be back to his old tricks and will use almost three decades of experience to re-establish his criminal empire.

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 / 7 OCT 2011

Contraband liquor is an increasingly serious business in Colombia, not just for those made sick by tainted alcohol, but for…

COLOMBIA / 8 AUG 2012

Colombia's neo-paramilitary criminal gangs have been excluded from an initiative aimed at facilitating the demobilization of guerrilla groups, limiting the…

COLOMBIA / 27 JUN 2013

The Colombian government plans to invest a total of $2.3 billion in citizen security for the 2012 to 2015 period,…

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.