HomeNoticiasThe Last Ride of an Ally of Pablo Escobar
NEWS

The Last Ride of an Ally of Pablo Escobar

BOLIVIA / 20 APR 2021 BY LARA LOAIZA EN

A one-time associate of Pablo Escobar, who spent 27 years in prison in the United States, is behind bars once again – this time in Peru – showing how older generations of narcos may still be in the mix.

The latest incident involving Jorge Roca, alias “Techo de Paja,” began on March 9, 2021, when he was arrested in Lima, Peru, as part of a joint operation carried out by US and Colombian authorities. Roca is accused of leading an organization dedicated to shipping drugs from Bolivia, his home country, and Peru, where he was arrested. The shipments reportedly pass through Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico before they reach the United States.

This is far from the first time Roca has faced justice. His criminal history dates back to the 1980s, when authorities considered him to be a major player in the drug-trafficking underworld. He was identified as having provided cocaine shipments to Pablo Escobar, along with his uncle Roberto Suárez, known as the “King of Cocaine” in Bolivia.

SEE ALSO: Argentina, Bolivia Authorities Arrest South America’s ‘Chapo Guzmán’

In his heyday, his wealth was enough to own a supermarket, a jockey club and a luxury residence in Santa Cruz de la Sierra as well as a number of ranches near the city of Beni.

In 1990, he was arrested and sentenced to 35 years in prison in the United States for drug trafficking, money laundering, bank fraud, tax evasion and extortion.

In 2018, after 27 years in prison, he returned to Bolivia, where he was to serve 15 more years in prison. However, shortly upon his arrival, he escaped from a private clinic in La Paz. Subsequently, the country's justice system granted him his freedom, considering that there was no point in continuing to search for him given his age.

Roca maintained a low profile for two years until 2020, when, during the COVID-19 pandemic, he appears to have returned to his old ways. Operating this time from Peru, he allegedly formed a new organization for shipping cocaine from the Andean nation to the United States.

According to information published by the newspaper El Deber, Roca and his allies “had made contact with Colombia, with the "goal of increasing the level of production per hectare [of coca crops] to improve the alkaloid and move the technical part to Bolivia.”

The cocaine reportedly came from laboratories in Peru and Bolivia, close to the border with Brazil.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Roca case illustrates how some drug traffickers manage to revive their illegal activities after spending decades in prison, building off their criminal pasts.

The return of drug traffickers to their home countries after serving their sentences in the United States has led to speculation about their possible return to the underworld. But Roca, if he is sentenced, would be one of the few demonstrable cases in which this has become reality.

Roca is not the first trafficker accused of resuming drug trafficking activities upon returning to his home country. A 2018 report published by El Tiempo warned about the risk of Colombian traffickers trying to reactivate their criminal networks upon returning from prison in the United States.

SEE ALSO: Los Pachenca Emerge After Return of Paramilitary Boss to Colombia

In 2011, Víctor Patiño Fómeque was at the center of a war between Los Urabeños and Los Rastrojos over the control of assets belonging to the Cali Cartel. According to information published by El Tiempo, Patiño Fómeque had played the role as a go-between for the Beltrán Leyva Cartel in Mexico and the Urabeños in exchange for support from the latter in the war against the Rastrojos.

In other cases, the return of old kingpins flares old tensions. A wave of violence in the Valle del Cauca department in 2015 was linked to the return of several old-school drug traffickers and frontmen.

More recently, the return of drug trafficker and former paramilitary Hernán Giraldo generated the same reaction in January of this year.

His family clan, which has since formed into a criminal group known as Los Pachenca, still maintains a degree of control over drug trafficking activities along Colombia’s Caribbean Coast, and his return has generated fear among communities in the region.

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

COLOMBIA / 9 JAN 2015

The declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by guerrilla group the FARC -- and recent indications that a similar move might…

COLOMBIA / 5 DEC 2014

In the book "Pablo Escobar My Father," the notorious drug lord's only son, Juan Pablo Escobar, recounts his memories of…

COCAINE / 25 FEB 2021

Despite boasting one of Paraguay’s lowest murder rates, Ñeembucú is an important transit point for marijuana heading to Argentina.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…