Locals in eastern Colombia have reportedly hidden the remains of recently killed narco-guerrilla "Megateo" and built a shrine in his honor, adding to the legend of a drug trafficker whose elusiveness was closely linked to the mystique and support he generated in communities where he operated.
Sources close to the case say bodyguards for Victor Ramon Navarro Serrano, alias "Megateo," the leader of the drug running remnants of guerrilla group the People's Liberation Army (EPL), escaped with his head and various other body parts following his death during a recent security operation, reported El Tiempo. Authorities have reportedly only been able to recover one of Megateo's legs, which they have sent to Colombia's forensic authority, Medicina Legal.
This lack of physical evidence has made it difficult to confirm Megateo's death; General Rodolfo Palomino, the director of Colombia's National Police, said that it will be "impossible" to establish that the narco-guerrilla was killed until a family member comes forward to identify him, reported El Espectador. However, Palomonio added that intelligence reports make it clear that Megateo was in fact killed during the security raid.
The unidentified sources also told El Tiempo that family members, supporters and close associates in his stronghold of the department of Norte de Santander have built an altar to pay respects to the fallen leader.
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The reported efforts to preserve Megateo's body parts and build him an altar enhance his image as a modern-day "Robin Hood" in the under-developed region of Catatumbo, where the guerrilla leader constructed a cocaine smuggling empire. Authorities say Megateo had used his riches to renovate the central square of the town he was living in, and he also reportedly handed out school supplies and Christmas gifts to the locals.
SEE ALSO: Profile of Megateo
But Megateo's charitable donations were not motivated purely by altruism. The admiration he earned within these communities enabled him to build a network of informants that helped him evade capture for years, despite heavy pressure from security forces. Megateo was rumored to have been killed in August when 300 special forces clashed with guerrilla fighters, but he managed to escape the firefight.
The lingering doubts over his death caused by the authorities' inability to find his corpse may mean Megateo's mystique endures even now. As numerous past cases indicate, mysterious deaths and disappearing bodies create narco-consiracy theories, which, every now and again, even prove to be true.