HomeNewsBriefArrest of Regional Leader a Further Blow to Colombia's Rastrojos
BRIEF

Arrest of Regional Leader a Further Blow to Colombia's Rastrojos

COLOMBIA / 28 FEB 2013 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

Police have arrested the alleged leader of criminal group the Rastrojos in Colombia's coffee region, in another blow to the already weakened criminal organization.

Police arrested Alejandro Beltran Esquivel, alias "Alex" or "La Gorda," as well as eight other alleged members of the Rastrojos in operations carried out in Medellin and various other cities in central Colombia on February 27, reported EFE. According to Colombian National Police Director Jose Roberto Leon Riaño, Esquivel was a trusted confidant of "Los Comba," the two brothers who ran the Rastrojos until their respective capture and surrender last year, and Colombian drug kingpin and Rastrojos ally "El Loco Barrera", also captured in 2012.

Esquivel was allegedly responsible for the monthly collection of two to three tons of cocaine base that was then distributed to various countries in Central America and the Caribbean, said Leon Riaño. Prior to working for the Rastrojos, Beltran once formed part of Colombia’s United Self-Defense Forces (AUC) and later the Popular Revolutionary Anti-Terrorist Army of Colombia(ERPAC), according to El Tiempo. He is believed to have taken part in one of Colombia's most notorious massacres, in Mapiripan, Meta department in 1997, in which up to 49 people were brutally murdered by paramilitaries.

InSight Crime Analysis

While the Rastrojos were once arguably the most powerful criminal organization in Colombia, signs have pointed to the group's demise following the arrest of its top leadership during 2012. Jose Leonardo Hortua Blandon, alias "Mascota," the last remaining Rastrojos leader thought to be a possible candidate for top commander, was arrested in November 2012. According to police sources, the group has lost some 20 percent of its membership over the last two years.

The Rastrojos came under additional pressure after the US Treasury Department placed sanctions on the gang, freezing any assets under US control and banning US citizens from conducting business with Rastrojos members.

The Rastrojos have suffered internal turmoil in their traditional strongholds such as Valle del Cauca since the arrests of its leadership, providing opportunities for rival criminal organization the Urabeños to move in. This latest wave of arrests could further hasten the total dismantlement of the organization.

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 / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation…

ÁGUILAS NEGRAS / 1 NOV 2011

A TV special by PBS details the threats community activists in Colombia face from armed groups, as they try to…

COLOMBIA / 2 AUG 2011

While the presidents of Colombia and Mexico announce their good intentions at high-level talks, key security cooperation is already taking…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…