HomeNewsBriefColombia Bishop Laundered Money for Urabeños: Official
BRIEF

Colombia Bishop Laundered Money for Urabeños: Official

COLOMBIA / 14 MAY 2015 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

Colombian authorities have arrested an evangelical bishop affiliated with a local non-governmental organization (NGO) for allegedly laundering money on behalf of criminal group the Urabeños.

On May 11, authorities captured Jorge Armando Mercedes Cedeño, a pastor from the Dominican Republic based in Colombia's northwest region of Uraba. Another religious leader, Bishop Orlando Arce Ortiz, was arrested in the southwest city of Cali, reported Semana.  Cedeño and Ortiz reportedly laundered over $400,000 in drug proceeds by sending the money to Central America and the Dominican Republic disguised as church donations.

Prosecutors in the Dominican Republic have opened an investigation into the potential links between the Urabeños and an evangelical church that may have received the illicit funds, reported the Associated Press.

Authorities also reportedly possess audio recordings of Bishop Arce and an additional pastor, in which they discuss using their position within a local NGO, known as Colombia Peace Organization (OPC), to free three people from jail, according to El Tiempo. One of these inmates was reportedly the wife of the Urabeños' top boss, Dario Antonio Usuga, alias "Otoniel."

An unidentified member of Colombia's Attorney General's Office told El Tiempo the two pastors were attempting to pass off Otoniel's wife as a member of the OPC.  As part of the plan, she would have pretended she was conducting humanitarian work meant to support the demobilization of the Urabeños, according to reports. 

InSight Crime Analysis

In Colombia, it is not uncommon for authorities to accuse NGOs of collaborating with armed actors. However, this typically involves NGOs accused of supporting left-wing guerrilla groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In contrast, the Urabeños belong to the newest generation of Colombian criminal groups, known as the BACRIM (from the Spanish acronym for "bandas criminales"), and are the successors to the demobilized right-wing paramilitaries. The BACRIM are not considered to be part of the country's armed conflict, as authorities say they lack political motivations.

SEE ALSO: Urabeños News and Profile

The Urabeños have tried to argue otherwise, calling themselves the "third actor" in Colombia's armed conflict, and have even asked to be included in Colombia's peace talks. In any case, if the Urabeños have indeed penetrated religious institutions in their homebase of Uraba, it is an uncomfortable reminder of how ingrained they have become in the social fabric of the region. 

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 / 12 FEB 2016

A number of Latin American drug capos have been reported killed only to be later found alive, a phenomenon…

COLOMBIA / 19 SEP 2016

A group of guerrillas in Colombia who have deserted the country's ongoing peace process are reportedly seeking control over lucrative…

COLOMBIA / 31 JUL 2018

Colombia's former President Álvaro Uribe is facing an uncertain future after announcing his resignation from the Senate. Now his lawyers are…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

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…