The alleged second-in-command of the Colombian Urabeños gang was arrested in Honduras, underscoring the importance of the Central American country as a transhipment point for Colombian cocaine.
Alexander Montoya Usuga, alias “El Flaco,” was arrested in the Honduran city of La Ceiba in a joint operation conducted by Honduran and Colombian authorities. He is wanted by Interpol for his role in an international criminal organization, crimes against humanity, and drug trafficking.
Although a spokesman for Honduran authorities refused to release the details of the arrest, he said that Montoya is expected to be extradited to Colombia soon, where he is charged with homicide and arms trafficking, among other crimes.
Colombian authorities claim that Montoya arrived in Honduras last April on a plane stolen from Bogota's El Dorado airport.
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According to El Tiempo, Montoya was promoted to second-in-command of the Urabeños following the death of his cousin, Urabeños leader·Juan de Dios Usuga, alias “Giovanni." Giovanni was killed in January during a police raid in northern Colombia. Intelligence reports indicate that Montoya was responsible for managing cocaine trafficking routes from the northern coastal region of Uraba in Colombia.
Those routes, which pass through the Caribbean, have been in place for decades, originally set up by the predecessor of criminal gangs like the Urabeños, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). The coastal city of La Ceiba, where Montoya was captured, plays an important role due to its port access to the Caribbean. Testimony from one former AUC member confirmed that many of these routes start in ports near the Uraba gulf in the Caribbean Sea and pass through La Ceiba.
In addition, US Coast Guard Rear Admiral Charles Michel of the Southern Command presented a map at a Homeland Security hearing last month illustrating the importance of cocaine trafficking routes from the northern Colombian provinces of Antioquia and Choco to Honduras.
Honduran Defense Minister Marlon Pascua estimated last September that 87 percent of US-bound cocaine from South America passes through Honduras.