HomeNewsBrief‘Lord of War’ Arrest Shines Light on Colombia Arms Trade
BRIEF

'Lord of War' Arrest Shines Light on Colombia Arms Trade

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 22 JAN 2014 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Police in Colombia have captured an arms dealer whose operations reached across continents and whose criminal contacts spanned the spectrum of Colombian armed groups.

According to police, Gustavo Velasquez, alias "El Señor de la Guerra" (the Lord of War) sourced assault rifles through contacts in Israel and Russia and moved them through Venezuela and into the department of Norte de Santander in Colombia.

Police say the arms were then sold on to the narco-guerrilla Victor Ramon Navarro, alias "Megateo," who heads the heavily criminalized remnants of the Popular Liberation Army (EPL). Deals with Megateo went through the regional head of the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas, known as "Ricardo Boquete," who served as Velasquez's point of contact with Megateo.

SEE ALSO: Megateo Profile

Velasquez is also accused of supplying arms to the narco-paramilitaries of the Urabeños, maintaining contact with the leader of the group's operations in the region, known as "Albeiro" or "Lobo."

InSight Crime Analysis

Velasquez's operations illustrate how a well-connected arms trafficker can become the supplier for any number of different armed groups, regardless of whether they have a political agenda or are focused entirely on criminal activities.

Arms dealers such as Velasquez are typically paid in drugs by these groups. This allows the groups to hold on to their hard-earned foreign currency and instead pay in something easily and cheaply obtainable. It also allows the arms dealer to vastly increase their profits by receiving drugs at Colombian wholesale price then using drug trafficking contacts to sell the loads closer to market, increasing their worth substantially. If Velasquez were to move cocaine back along the same route used to move arms into Colombia, then just by crossing the Venezuela border the price could increase from $2,000 - $4,000 a kilo to $4,000 - $6,000.

The cooperation between the ELN and the EPL, which police say also involved sharing intelligence on the movements of security forces, is also indicative of how guerrilla groups function in Norte de Santander. The EPL, the ELN and Colombia's biggest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) all operate in the region and are known to work together both in military operations and in the drug trade -- in which Megateo and the EPL are major brokers and are believed to also run processing operations.

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

COCAINE / 26 MAY 2021

A Turkish mafia boss has claimed cocaine is being trafficked directly from Venezuela to Turkey in a viral video, pointing…

BRAZIL / 7 MAY 2019

Despite a steep drop in their overall value over the last 18 months and a raft of interdictions by Latin…

COLOMBIA / 2 DEC 2013

Peace talks between the FARC guerrillas and the Colombian government have turned to the issue of drug trafficking, representing a…

About InSight Crime

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.

THE ORGANIZATION

Collaborating on Citizen Security Initiatives

8 JUN 2021

Co-director Steven Dudley worked with Chemonics, a DC-based development firm, to analyze the organization’s citizen security programs in Mexico.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Deepens Its Connections with Universities

31 MAY 2021

A partnership with the University for Peace will complement InSight Crime’s research methodology and expertise on Costa Rica.

THE ORGANIZATION

With Support from USAID, InSight Crime Will Investigate Organized Crime in Haiti

31 MAY 2021

The project will seek to map out Haiti's principal criminal economies, profile the specific groups and actors, and detail their links to elements of the state.

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.