HomeNewsBriefJailed Ex-Governor Ordered Assassination of Colombia Doctor: Candidate
BRIEF

Jailed Ex-Governor Ordered Assassination of Colombia Doctor: Candidate

COLOMBIA / 27 JAN 2014 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

A candidate for senate says the murder of a well-known neurologist in Colombia's northern coastal city of Barranquilla was ordered by the former governor of La Guajira, who was arrested last year for ties to criminal groups and his suspected role in a series of homicides.

Doctor Jorge Daza Barriga was shot to death by hired assassins as he arrived at his home on January 25; authorities later found a burned vehicle, which the murderers are believed to have used to escape, reported El Pais.

Based on the evidence left behind, officials believe the murder may have been ordered by Marcos Figueroa, a powerful regional cocaine trafficker whose organization has been largely absorbed by the Urabeños, the country's most significant international trafficking organization. Similar evidence was found in the cases of three area politicians, also thought to have been murdered by Figueroa, reported El Tiempo.

However, Green Party senatorial candidate Claudia Lopez claimed on Twitter that former La Guajira governor Juan Francisco Gomez, known as "Kiko," may also have been involved and possibly ordered the hit from prison as revenge against the doctor. Lopez -- who is known more as a prominent organized crime and corruption investigator, and columnist then as a politician -- has accused both Gomez and Figueroa of criminal activities in the past. 

According to Lopez, Figueroa and Gomez are offering around $100,000 to hired assassins to kill anyone who has made accusations to authorities against them, reported El Tiempo.

Kiko Gomez, arrested in October 2013, is believed to have worked closely with Figueroa, as well as had links to the now defunct United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) umbrella paramilitary organization that was once the country's largest drug trafficking group.

InSight Crime Analysis

The accusation against Gomez rings true considering the former governor's long history of illicit activity, which includes involvement in the contraband trade in the early 1990s and later links to the AUC bloc led by Rodrigo Tovar, alias "Jorge 40." He has been blamed for the murders in 2012 of two women, a former mayor and an indigenous leader, and was also a suspect in the murder of three area politicians.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Elites & Organized Crime

Gomez operated for many years with impunity in part because La Guajira, which sits along the Venezuela border, is a hotbed for criminal activity. It is home to a flourishing contraband trade in gasoline, alcohol and weapons, and is a key stop on the cocaine route. Currently, the Urabeños are the dominant criminal group in the region, and Figueroa is believed to be working closely with them. 

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