A new report stating that a shadowy drug trafficker, known as "Puntilla Pachon," has become Colombia's latest narco boss brings into question whether criminal figureheads are still needed to regulate the underworld.
According to Semana, Oscar Mauricio Pachon Rozo, alias "Puntilla Pachon," has inherited the criminal empires of two former associates who were recently killed during security operations, Victor Ramon Navarro Serrano, alias "Megateo," and Martin Farfan Diaz Gonzalez, alias "Pijarbey."
Megateo controlled coca crops, drug laboratories and trafficking routes across a large swath of Colombia's northeastern Norte de Santander department. Pijarbey ran a drug trafficking group primarily based in the central department of Meta and the eastern department of Vichada. By inheriting these assets and combining them with his own territory in eastern Colombia, Puntilla has become the major drug lord in that part of the country, reported Semana.
Puntilla has spent decades in the underworld, working for the powerful Medellin and Cali Cartels before joining kingpin Daniel "El Loco" Barrera. Following Barrera's extradition to the United States in 2013, Puntilla reportedly formed an alliance with Megateo, Pijarbey and neo-paramilitary organization the Urabeños. Puntilla was also reportedly the successor to Barrera's drug trafficking empire in Colombia's Eastern Plains region.
According to Semana, Puntilla has benefited from the Colombian government's ongoing hunt for Urabeños head Dario Antonio Usuga, alias "Otoniel." With the government's resources focused on the Urabeños' headquarters in the northwest region of Uraba, Puntilla's group has been able to operate more freely, the report stated.
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While a single report is not conclusive proof that Puntilla has become Eastern Colombia's top boss, it does highlight the shifting role of big-name criminals in the drug trade. Given Colombia's current criminal dynamics, it is unclear if there is still a need for figureheads to bring a measure of stability to the underworld.
Due to its criminal nature, drug trafficking has historically required a small number of bosses to exercise control and regulate the industry. Drug lords such as Pablo Escobar, who ran the Medellin Cartel, and later the Oficina de Envigado's leader, Diego Fernando Murillo, alias "Don Berna," helped guide the Colombian underworld during their respective eras of dominance.
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But Barrera's capture in 2012 was heralded as the end of high-profile capos in Colombia. Since then, groups like the Urabeños -- now the country's biggest drug trafficking organization -- have adopted a decentralized leadership structure, rather than the hierarchical system used by their predecessors. It is also worth noting that the Colombian government has become adept at capturing and killing high-profile drug traffickers, making anonymity and discretion increasingly valuable assets for survival in the underworld.