HomeNewsBriefMurder Trial in Argentina Shows Spread of Colombia Drug Trafficking
BRIEF

Murder Trial in Argentina Shows Spread of Colombia Drug Trafficking

ARGENTINA / 14 AUG 2015 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

The trial in Argentina for the murder of a Colombian guerrilla turned top level narco may have left more questions than answers but has demonstrated how Colombian drug traffickers have expanded into the country, bringing their personal vendettas with them.

In April 2012, Hector Saldarriaga, alias "El Mojarro," was gunned down in an exclusive Buenos Aires neighborhood in a crime immediately linked to the Colombian underworld.

Three years later, and prosecutors are now demanding a life prison sentence for the one person arrested for the murder. The defense, however, is calling for his acquittal, claiming he is merely a scapegoat, reported Clarin.

The assassination has long been linked to the now incarcerated Colombian drug lord Daniel "El Loco" Barrera, who Saldarriaga allegedly served as a chief of assassins and trusted cohort. However, the trail for investigators ended with Emmanuel Aristimuño, a 25-year-old Argentine who purchased the motorbike used in the hit.

During the trial, Aristimuño said he purchased the motorbike for a mysterious group of Colombians, who he said approached him in a bar and paid him to buy and deliver the bike, reported La Nacion. Aristimuño claimed this was the extent of his involvement, while prosecutors allege he was a paid assassin at the service of Colombian drug lords.

InSight Crime Analysis

Whether Aristimuño is guilty of murder or not, there is little doubt the assassination plot of El Mojarro goes far beyond an Argentine youth, and that the intellectual authors of the crime have so far escaped justice.

Saldarriaga had a long history in the Colombian underworld. Beginning as a guerrilla fighter with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), he later struck alliances with leaders of Colombian paramilitary groups before eventually emerging as a leading figure in the organization of El Loco Barrera, who he helped establish a transnational criminal empire based in eastern Colombia.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Argentina

However, according to reports in the Colombian media, Barrera tried to have Saldarriaga killed in 2011 after the pair fell out over a cocaine shipment. Saldarriaga then fled to Argentina, where he continued the dispute by passing information on Barrera's networks to authorities, Colombian intelligence officials told El Espectator. According to the theories of both Colombian and Argentine investigators, it was Barrera's network that eventually caught up with him in Buenos Aires.

Saldarriaga is far from the only high profile Colombian drug trafficker to flee to Argentina, which in recent years has earned the reputation as a criminal refuge. The presence of these narco-exiles has likely contributed to the emergence of Argentina as a major drug transit zone, as many have used the country as a base to set up new drug routes -- as Saldarriaga allegedly did -- or to launder drug trade profits.

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

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 4 OCT 2022

Corruption, no supervision, and poor legislation have led to Latin American military weapons ending up in criminal hands.

ARGENTINA / 23 DEC 2021

A spree of illegal fishing occurred across Latin America this past year, much of it driven by competition for diminishing…

AUC / 26 OCT 2021

Accused Colombian trafficker Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias “Otoniel,” has been on the radar of US prosecutors for more than a…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…