HomeNewsBriefIn Latest Blow to Urabeños, Colombia Government Takes Down ‘El Indio’
BRIEF

In Latest Blow to Urabeños, Colombia Government Takes Down 'El Indio'

COLOMBIA / 30 MAR 2018 BY VICTORIA DITTMAR EN

With the death of “El Indio,” the Urabeños’ third-in-command, Colombian security forces have dealt another blow to the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the country, a sign that authorities are closing in on the group's top leader.

Colombian police announced in a March 28 press release that Manuel Arístides Meza Páez, alias "El Indio," was shot down during an aerial assault operation in the northern department of Córdoba.

The raid that led to El Indio's killing was part of “Operation Agamemnon II,” a joint effort between the police and the military aimed at taking out the Urabeños' leadership and weakening the group’s finances. Over the past seven months, the operation has led to the downfall of Roberto Vargas Gutiérrez, alias "Gavilán," and Luis Orlando Padierna, alias "Inglaterra," both of whom were high-ranking Urabeños bosses. Security forces have also successfully dismantled several of the group's drug trafficking routes and intercepted large drug shipments.

According to the police statement, this was the sixth operation directly targeting El Indio, and it was carried out based on information about his location obtained by the national police intelligence unit. Army Commander Alberto Mejía described it as "the most important and forceful blow to [the Urabeños] in 2018."

El Indio was the Urabeños' finance chief and head of operations in the Magdalena Medio region as well as on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. He also served as a middleman with criminal actors in Central America and Mexico to facilitate drug trafficking operations. Revenues from these activities were reportedly laundered through shell companies and other properties.

The police report adds that El Indio commanded more than 200 men and was under investigation for a series of targeted murders. Moreover, according to El Tiempo, the crime boss orchestrated “Plan Pistola,” an assassination operation in late 2016 targeting security forces in the northwestern Urabá region.

InSight Crime Analysis

The death of El Indio represents another decisive blow to the Urabeños’ structure and criminal enterprise.

As a key actor in the group's financial and drug trafficking activities, Meza Páez was likely one of the bosses who brought in the greatest revenues for the organization. Therefore, his absence will undoubtedly affect the Urabeños' finances.

Meza Páez's killing also reduces the ranks of an already-thinning Urabeños leadership, a clear indication that authorities are closing in on the organization's top leader, Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias "Otoniel." After the death of Gavilán, Otoniel offered to surrender to authorities, but continued operations against the Urabeños show that the government intends to continue its head-on assault against the group.

With a number of top lieutenants out of the picture, Otoniel will have to replace his inner circle with people who do not necessarily have the same level of experience and knowledge as their predecessors. And given the authorities' unrelenting pressure, combined with the Urabeños' ongoing decentralization, the group is primed for more dramatic fragmentation.

The deaths of ringleaders like El Indio not only affect the Urabeños at the national level, but also the local level. Now that the Urabeños' operations on the Pacific coast have suffered a serious blow, competing groups like the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN) could try to scoop up territory that the weakened group no longer has the power to control.

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 / 6 DEC 2012

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has invited Colombia to collaborate on joint anti-trafficking sea patrols in parts of the…

COLOMBIA / 9 DEC 2011

On the anniversary of the death of one of Mexico's most-wanted drug lords, analyst Alejandro Hope looks at…

COLOMBIA / 18 MAY 2016

The arrest of an Interpol agent who allegedly colluded with the Urabeños is fresh proof that Colombia's principal transnational drug…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.