A Medellin mafia boss and enforcer has been arrested in Spain, where he was allegedly running drug trafficking networks moving cocaine from Colombia to Europe.
Hernan Alonso Villa, alias "Raton" or "Mouse," was arrested in Alicante, the Spanish coastal province and a popular tourist destination. Raton is believed to be a military boss of the "Oficina de Envigado," a Medellin mafia group and successor to the feared Medellin drug cartel of Pablo Escobar, commanding up to 200 of the group's "sicarios" or assassins.
Raton, aged 40, was captured on an arrest warrant filed by Colombia, where he is wanted for murder and possession of firearms. He had cash on him amounting to $54,000. His arrest was the result of a joint operation between Spanish and Colombian police, something confirmed by Colombia's National Police chief, General Rodolfo Palomino.
Spanish police reported that Raton knew that he had an arrest warrant pending as he was taking extreme security measures, "constantly changing his place of residence, his phones and using different false identities." He may have been working in Spain on and off since 2008.
InSight Crime Analysis
This is just the latest in a string of arrests of Colombian underworld figures in Spain. Other notable examples have been the Madrid arrests of Urabeños leaders Andrés Palencia Gonzalez alias "Visaje," in November 2013 and John Mario Salazar Gomez "el invalido" (The Invalid) in May this year.
InSight Crime interviewed Inspector Fernando Gonzalez of the Spanish police, who specializes in Colombian organized crime groups, in Madrid. He said that there were a number of Colombian "oficinas de cobro," -- criminal structures for which the Oficina de Envigado was the prototype -- based in Madrid. These oficinas also have "branches" or cells not only in Spanish cities like Barcelona and Valencia, but an increasing presence across Europe, particularly Holland, a favorite entry point for cocaine shipments, much via the busy port of Rotterdam. He said that there were oficinas linked not only to the Oficina de Envigado, as in this case, but the Urabeños, the Rastrojos and la Cordillera, all powerful Colombian BACRIM (from the Spanish "Bandas Criminales") criminal syndicates.
SEE ALSO: Profile of the Oficina de Envigado
With the Mexican cartels now exercising a near monopoly over the US market for cocaine, Colombian groups have been exploring and expanding into other markets, among them Europe. Sources in Medellin told InSight Crime that the Colombian mafia is looking to expand operations across Europe, taking advantage of the imminent immigration changes which will allow Colombians to move through Schengen nations without needing a visa, as is currently the case.