In a case that exemplifies why the Gaitanistas remain Colombia's pre-eminent drug trafficking organization, Colombia is set to extradite an alleged Gaitanista intermediary with Mexican criminal groups to the US.
According to El Espectador, Colombia’s Supreme Court has approved the extradition of Miguel Angel Alfaro, alias "El Flaco" -- captured January 19 and an alleged intermediary between Colombia's Gaitanistas, also known as the Gulf Clan, Urabeños, and Gaitanist Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia – AGC), and Mexico's Zetas drug cartels -- to face drug trafficking charges in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
The Colombian court’s verdict said inquiries by the United States had “revealed Alfaro was a key transporter for a drug trafficking organization based in Colombia and operated by Fernain Rodriguez Vasquez.”
The US Treasury Department placed Vasquez -- arrested in August 2013 and extradited to the United States in January 2014 -- on its “Kingpin List” in February 2014. Adam Szubin -- director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) -- said Vasquez’s network “moved massive quantities of drugs for some of the most violent drug trafficking organizations in the Western Hemisphere, including the FARC, Los Zetas, and the Sinaloa Cartel.”
This consisted of “nearly 100 tons of cocaine per year” being moved through Central and North America, with Vasquez providing “multi-ton quantities of cocaine” to the Zetas, which was ultimately distributed in the United States.
InSight Crime Analysis
The AGC have come to dominate Colombia’s transnational drug trade, emerging as the only “criminal band,” or BACRIM (from the Spanish acronym for “bandas criminales”) to maintain a national reach and influence.
SEE ALSO: The Victory of the Urabeños: The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime
The AGC's rise as the most powerful of Colombia's drug trafficking groups -- and their demonstrated ability to export massive amounts of cocaine northwards -- can in part be explained by their ability to establish international links and a foothold abroad.
Middlemen like Alfaro and Vasquez -- who appear to have been facilitating contact and drug shipments between the AGC and Mexican drug trafficking organizations -- helped make the AGC's expansion possible.
Nonetheless, recent captures by Colombian authorities of high-level AGC operatives -- as well as an intense manhunt for Dairo Antonio Usuga, alias “Otoniel,” the organization’s leader -- have brought the AGC and their transnational drug trafficking network under increasing pressure.