HomeNewsBriefColombia Hitman Arrested in Spain Was ‘Rastrojos Europe Link’
BRIEF

Colombia Hitman Arrested in Spain Was 'Rastrojos Europe Link'

COLOMBIA / 21 JAN 2014 BY CHARLES PARKINSON EN

A hitman from Colombia arrested in Spain for a double homicide in Holland allegedly acted as a link between the Rastrojos and European criminal groups, in a further sign of the penetration of Colombian organized crime into Europe.

Juan Alejandro Roldan Puentes, alias "Niño,” was arrested in Madrid following a joint operation by Colombian, Spanish and Dutch authorities. He is accused of killing two Colombians in Amsterdam in May 2013 over a $270,000 drug debt owed to an unidentified trafficker known as “Talisman,” reported El Tiempo.

Roldan had lived in Spain for two years and, according to Colombia's National Police Director Rodolfo Palomino, formed part of a network of hitmen working for the Rastrojos drug trafficking organization and linked to the Hells Angels biker gang, reported El Pais. The Hells Angels saw dozens of members arrested last year in Spain over drug trafficking and other illegal activity. El Tiempo also reported a link between Roldan and Mexican cartels, but gave no further details.

Roldan is now the subject of an extradition request from Holland and faces charges of murder, money laundering, theft, extortion and the disposal of dead bodies, reported the Associated Press.

InSight Crime Analysis

Over recent years, the Rastrojos have been the preeminent Latin American organized crime presence in Spain, and the capture of Roldan comes less than a year after an assassin network linked to the group was dismantled there. Reports of a working relationship between the Rastrojos and Sinaloa Cartel have also abounded in recent years, making a link to Mexican organized crime in the present case entirely feasible.

However, with the Rastrojos now in disarray it is unclear if Roldan’s reported link to the criminal group was ongoing or a remnant from the past.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Rastrojos

With the decline of the Rastrojos, there have been signs Colombia's most powerful group, the Urabeños, are muscling into Spain, which is an attractive base of operations as the principal entry point for Latin American drugs arriving in Europe.

The European market has become increasingly popular with Colombian groups, as Mexican groups have gained a stranglehold on the flow of drugs into the United States. The European route is also attractive because it presents a lower risk of interdiction and extradition than the United States.

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