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

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

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020 BY INSIGHT CRIME EN

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 spearheaded by Co-director Jeremy McDermott.

Judges for the national journalism prize — one of the most highly regarded in Colombia — announced the winners on November 19. InSight Crime’s groundbreaking investigation, titled “The Invisible Drug Lord: Hunting ‘The Ghost,’” took home the prize for investigative journalism in print.

The headline-grabbing six-part series centered on Madrid-based businessman Guillermo León Acevedo Giraldo, also known as “Memo Fantasma,” a former drug trafficker and leader of the brutal paramilitary army known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia — AUC).

Over the course of two years of fieldwork across Colombia, Europe and the United States, InSight Crime investigators tracked Acevedo’s start in the Medellín Cartel, his ascent to leading the infamous Central Bolívar Bloc (Bloque Central Bolívar — BCB) of the AUC and worming his way out of the paramilitary demobilization process before disappearing into Europe to live the high life in Madrid.

SEE ALSO: The Invisible Drug Lord: Hunting “The Ghost”

The investigation garnered significant attention in Colombia as it uncovered business dealings that Acevedo entered into with a company part-owned by Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez and run by her husband, Álvaro Rincón. Acevedo sold property to the company, Hitos Urbanos, as part of the high-profile construction of the Torre 85 office building in downtown Bogotá, which Rincón had spearheaded.

Both Acevedo and Vice President Ramírez threatened InSight Crime with legal action, but those complaints were ultimately withdrawn. Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office later confirmed InSight Crime’s findings shortly after they were first published in March 2020.

“After the threats of legal action from both Guillermo Acevedo and Vice President Ramírez, the receiving of the Simón Bolívar prize for investigative journalism is a reassurance to us that we were on the right track,” McDermott said.

“It reaffirms our belief in the importance of speaking truth to power and following the story no matter where it takes us.”

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.

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 / 11 MAR 2015

As cities in Latin America continue to expand, urban violence has become a principal indicator of a nation's overall level…

COLOMBIA / 2 JUL 2019

A massacre on the Colombia-Venezuela border has been attributed to warring factions of the Rastrojos gang, revealing a bloody leadership…

COLOMBIA / 8 MAY 2012

After months of negotiations with the DEA, Javier Calle Serna, alias 'Comba,' has surrendered to US authorities, possibly creating a…

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…