Venezuelan authorities have arrested the head of a powerful Bogota microtrafficking gang with alleged links to BACRIM groups, evidence of the cozy relationship between transnational criminal organizations and Colombia's local drug distributors.
Rigoberto Arias Castrillon, alias "Rigo", head of the "Manguera" gang, was arrested in Venezuela on April 21. "Manguera" operated in one of Bogota's principal microtrafficking zones, El Bronx, and according to police was responsible for over 50 percent of Bogota's drug distribution, making 80-100 million pesos ($43,500-$54,500) per day, reported Semana.
Colombian police had been following Rigo since December, and he was wanted by Interpol to face charges of drug trafficking, murder, extortion and kidnapping.
According to Bogota police, Arias was the last major El Bronx gang leader to be arrested, following the arrests of the heads of the two other principal gangs -- "Homero" and "Mosco" -- as well as Arias' second-in-command. Police link Rigo to the BACRIM (from the Spanish "bandas criminales") group "La Cordillera" from the time he began his career in Colombia's Coffee Region, later forming microtrafficking network "Los Rolos" in Pereira before moving to Bogota. According to El Tiempo, he was also connected with the Rastrojos.
The inheritor of Rigo's trade in the Coffee Region -- with whom he continued to maintain drug connections -- was arrested a month earlier.
InSight Crime Analysis
Rigo's capture and alleged connections provide evidence major criminal groups are involved with increasingly sophisticated Colombian microtrafficking operations. The former leader of La Cordillera, arrested in 2011, was believed to have controlled the domestic drug market in both Colombia's Coffee Region and Quito, Ecuador.
Microtrafficking has become an increasingly lucrative trade in Colombia, leading President Juan Manuel Santos to announce a major police operation to combat the illicit business in April. Semana's information indicates the extent of the profits to be made. A previous report by Caracol Radio in January described one Bogota gang making $300,000 a month.