HomeNewsBriefColombia’s ‘New Emerald Czar’ Arrested Amid Fears of ‘Green War’
BRIEF

Colombia’s ‘New Emerald Czar’ Arrested Amid Fears of ‘Green War’

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2013 BY CHARLES PARKINSON EN

A week after surviving a grenade attack, Colombia’s “New Emerald Czar” has been arrested for links to organized crime and weapons trafficking, in what could be an operation designed to avoid a war by capturing one of its main protagonists.

Emerald baron Pedro Nel Rincon, better known as “Pedro Orejas” (Pedro ears) was arrested on November 20 on a farm he owns in the mountainous sub-region of Western Boyaca — 100 miles north of capital Bogota — where Colombia’s lucrative emerald trade is concentrated.

According to El Tiempo, Rincon was arrested after an arsenal of weapons was found in one of his mines, including rifles linked to paramilitaries and body armor belonging to the mayor’s office in the municipality of Bello — a satellite city of Colombia’s second-largest city, Medellin.

On the day of his arrest, Rincon was due to meet with other emerald barons and Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon to hold discussions intended to guarantee peace among the emerald barons, reported El Espectador. His arrest comes little more than a week after he was targeted in a grenade attack which resulted in the death of four people and Rincon’s son being badly injured.

Earlier this week, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos ordered Pinzon, as well as his ministers of justice and mining, to establish a presence in the region to stave off the threat of a so-called “green war” among emerald barons fighting for control of trade.

InSight Crime Analysis

Tensions have been bubbling among the handful of families which control the country’s emerald trade for some time and have been rising since the death of the industry’s traditional power broker Victor Carranza in April. In the 1970s and 1980s brutal fighting between armed men on the pay of the emerald barons — the so-called “green wars” — left up to 6,000 people dead, until Carranza emerged as the lynchpin of a 1991 peace deal which lasted until his death.

As Carranza’s health waned, the peace began to falter and the “Emerald Czar” publicly accused Rincon of involvement in a number of assassination attempts against him in recent years. Since his death various attacks have taken place, including against Carranza allies, however the grenade attack against Rincon was the most high-profile and sparked a flurry of reports about an imminent outbreak of fighting after Rincon publicly accused a number of rival barons of involvement.

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

While many of the emerald barons have been linked to involvement with paramilitaries and drug trafficking, Rincon has been historically tied to — among others — notorious paramilitary leaders Carlos Castaño and Pedro Olivio Guerrero, alias “Cuchillo,” as well as now-extradited drug trafficker Diego Fernando Murillo, alias “Don Berna.”

While the veracity of the arms cache is in little doubt, the region’s emerald barons are all known to employ armed men and are all likely to have a supply of weapons, so Rincon’s arrest may be an attempt by authorities to avoid conflict by placing the industry’s key player, who has a powerful motive for revenge, behind bars. 

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 25 SEP 2012

The arrest of a leader of Colombian gang the Paisas reveals the fast-changing dynamics of the drug conflict, in which…

ALFONSO CANO / 6 JUN 2011

Colombia's Armed Forces killed a FARC guerrilla who was head of security for rebel chief 'Alfonso Cano' in a confrontation…

COLOMBIA / 7 DEC 2011

The prevailing wisdom is that Colombian traffickers have been eclipsed in Central America by the rise of their Mexican counterparts,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

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 into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…