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BRIEF

Potential Rastrojos Leader Arrested

COLOMBIA / 19 JUL 2012 BY TRACEY KNOTT EN

Police in Colombia claimed to have arrested the new leader of the beleaguered Rastrojos drug gang, creating confusion over the state of the group's leadership.

On July 2, Colombian national police announced the arrest of Edison Pelaez Jaramillo, aka “Mincho,” who they say had emerged as the leader of the Rastrojos. Micho was captured in a small village in the western department of Quindio.

Mincho (pictured) has been charged in connection to his work as a drug trafficker and is also being investigated for his role in at least 30 homicides.

General Luis Perez Alvaran, head of Colombia’s anti-narcotics police, claimed that prior to his rise in power, Mincho had controlled drug trafficking in several Colombian municipalities. Alvaran also alleged that Mincho participated in the Rastrojos' territorial dispute against Los Urabenos, another criminal group, with his two brothers, Pedro Antonio and John Jairo.

InSight Crime Analysis

Micho’s arrest comes after the Rastrojos’ loss of several key leaders, including Javier Calle Serna, alias “Comba,” who surrendered to US authorities in May, and Rastrojos founder Diego Perez Henao, alias "Diego Rastrojo," who was arrested in June.

It is unclear how Mincho, a relatively obscure figure in the organization, would have been able to take over the Rastrojos so quickly, even with the group’s recent power shake-up. Mincho would have had very little time to consolidate power since Comba only surrendered two months ago. This suggests that authorities may have exaggerated Mincho’s role in the organization.

Adding to the improbability of Mincho becoming the Rastrojos leader so quickly is the fact that Comba’s brother’s, Luis Calle Serna, who shared control with Comba over a principal faction of the Rastrojos, is still at large and may still be in power.

While it is unlikely that Mincho is the new leader of the Rastrojos, it is possible that someone other than Calle Serna could be in power, especially since Calle Serna might have lost credibility with the organization since his brother’s defection.

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