HomeNewsThe 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 / 18 JAN 2016

Colombia has heralded the capture of the "last great capo" of Medellin mafia the "Oficina de Envigado," but such labels…

COLOMBIA / 5 OCT 2011

The extradition of another top lieutenant from the Rastrojos drug gang, heirs to Colombia's powerful Norte del Valle Cartel, delivers…

COLOMBIA / 11 SEP 2012

The story of an Ecuadorean who was held captive by Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla army for two years sheds light on…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.