HomeNewsBrief'Sebastian' Moved to Max Security Prison to Break Medellin Mafia Command
BRIEF

'Sebastian' Moved to Max Security Prison to Break Medellin Mafia Command

COLOMBIA / 1 OCT 2012 BY HANNAH STONE EN

Medellin mafia boss “Sebastian,” who was captured in August, has been moved to Colombia’s highest security prison following complaints from the police that he was continuing to direct his criminal organization from jail.

Erick Vargas Cardona, alias "Sebastian," has been transferred to the maximum security prison of Combita in Boyaca province, reported El Espectador.

Last week, Medellin metropolitan police commander, General Yesid Vasquez, said that Sebastian was leading the Oficina de Envigado from La Picota prison in Bogota, sending messages with orders for the group. Vasquez said that no single person had been chosen to replace Sebastian, because the Oficina was afraid that police would immediately arrest the new leader. According to the police commander, there are currently six bosses running the mafia ring, El Colombiano reported.

InSight Crime Analysis

It would not be surprising if Sebastian continued to lead the Oficina from prison. La Picota has been at the center of scandals about the lax treatment of powerful inmates, with politicians accused of paramilitary ties allegedly allowed to leave the facility for medical care, taking the opportunity to go on lunch dates in Bogota.

Criminal boss Daniel Rendon Herrera, alias "Don Mario," is thought to still be leading the Urabeños gang from La Picota. He was transferred from Combita in 2010 in order to facilitate him giving testimony about the crimes of the paramilitaries.

Indeed, the heads of the Medellin mafia have a history of continuing their business from behind bars. Sebastian’s predecessor as leader of the Oficina, Diego Fernando Murillo or “Don Berna,” kept such tight control over the organization while in a maximum security prison in Ituagui, just outside Medellin, that he was able to control the city’s murder rate, which plummeted, only rising after his extradition to the United States in 2008. 

Pablo Escobar, who founded the Oficina, infamously continued running his organization from a prison he himself built in Medellin.

If Sebastian is unable to run his organization from Combita, leaving the Oficina without an overall leader, this could spark a further fragmentation of the group. However, it is questionable how deeply Sebastian would have been involved in the day-to-day running of the business, as his high profile meant that much of his energy was taken up with evading the police in recent months.

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