HomeNewsBriefSpain Dismantles 'Collection Office' Run by Colombians
BRIEF

Spain Dismantles 'Collection Office' Run by Colombians

COLOMBIA / 15 AUG 2013 BY DANIELA CASTRO EN

A network of hired assassins led by three Colombians has been dismantled in Spain in what authorities called the biggest operation to be carried out against a "collections office" in that country.

As part of an operation that began nine months earlier, Spanish police broke up a network of "sicarios," or hired assassins, dedicated to collecting drug trafficking related debts. Those arrested included 15 Colombians and one Spaniard.

The system the network used to settle debts was the "amarre" (tying up), or kidnapping, of the victim until they or a family member paid the amount owed, reported EFE. The group also extorted the victims, threatening to take action if they did not pay, including the kidnapping or murder of relatives of the victims who were often in Colombia.

According to authorities, the killers usually worked by assignment, and charged the person who contracted them 50 percent of the money collected, although they also sometimes worked for themselves.

The dismantled "collections office" or what is known in Colombian underworld lingo as a "oficina de cobro" -- a localized organization that controls debt collection and extortion and carries out assassinations -- was headed by men Spanish authorities called the Upegui brothers. In addition to performing kidnappings and extortion, the network was also involved in drug trafficking and, apparently, money laundering, according to Europa Press.

InSight Crime Analysis

Although Spanish authorities say this has been the biggest operation carried out against an "oficina de cobro" in that country, it is not the first time that an organization of this type has been dismantled in Spain, nor is it the first time that selective homicides related to drug trafficking debts have been committed. In March 2012, a network known as "Los Señores del Acido" (The Lords of Acid) was broken up, which worked as an assassin network in Madrid for the Colombian criminal group the Rastrojos.

However, what is new in this case is that, unlike other Colombian organizations taken down in Spain, the Upegui brothers' network did not appear to work for any one organization in particular. This could be due to the growing fragmentation of criminal groups, which has allowed small criminal organizations to gain more autonomy and become involved in more of their own criminal activities.

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

AUC / 30 AUG 2021

Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was the pioneer in industrial-scale cocaine trafficking.

COCAINE / 27 MAY 2022

Colombia has gone from a peaceful election in 2018 to a violent electoral process in 2022, with the increase in…

COCAINE / 13 APR 2022

The arrest of yet another alleged Sinaloa Cartel emissary in Colombia has once again raised questions about the extent of…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…