HomeNewsBrief'US Citizens Caught at Colombian Narco-Wedding'
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'US Citizens Caught at Colombian Narco-Wedding'

COLOMBIA / 19 JUL 2012 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

Seven US citizens, three of whom supposedly identified themselves as cops, were reportedly present at an alleged Colombian drug trafficker's lavish wedding party, raising questions about what they were doing there and hinting at the extent of the groom's social and professional network.

News magazine Semana has uploaded a video (see below) recorded by Colombian police, showing them checking the IDs of guests at the elaborate wedding. The wedding celebrations of drug trafficker Camilo Torres Martinez, alias "Fritanga," were broken up last week when police arrived to arrest the groom. There has been much media coverage focusing on the party's reported price ($1 millon), length (a week), location (a Caribbean island), and guest list.

"Those who don't have idenfication in hand need to come with us," a police officer is overhead saying in the video recording. The video then shows an officer examining four US passports, with the names and passport numbers clearly visible: Jose Enrique Vives Torres, John Rodriguez, Luis Velazquez Acosta, and Frabian Eli Carrion Barreto. Semana identifies these guests as Puerto Rico nationals, and says there were three other US citizens there: two from Puerto Rico and one from Pennsylvania.

According to Semana, three of the US citizens supposedly identified themselves as police, but this is not clear from the video.

The detained drug trafficker, Fritanga, is reportedly a top leader of drug trafficking organization the Urabeños. According to Semana, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists Fritanga as ranking just below Urabeños leader Henry de Jesus Lopez, alias "Mi Sangre.” Fritanga was reportedly charged with overseeing drug exports from the coasts of Antioquia and Choco departments.

InSight Crime Analysis

If the passports shown in the police video are authentic, it raises the question of why several Puerto Ricans were attending Fritanga's wedding. Puerto Rico is a key stopover points for cocaine shipments headed to the US from Colombia.

The presence of foreign nationals at the wedding could be a further indication of Fritanga's status in the Urabeños' business network. There are already some signs that Fritanga had significant influence over local Colombian authorities: he was able to release a forged death certificate, complete with notary public and medical approval, in 2010.

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