Concern Grows as Powerful Drug Traffickers and Paramilitaries Return from Prison — Some in the US (E)
The release of Colombian underworld boss “Perra loca” from a US prison is adding to fears that a flood of recently freed drug lords and paramilitaries could have a violent impact on the country’s already volatile criminal landscape.
US authorities have deported Hector Restrepo Santamaría, alias “Perra loca,” back to Colombia after he completed a five-year sentence in a Pennsylvania prison on charges of money laundering, reported Blu Radio.
In addition, in Colombia’s urban criminal hubs, Medellin and Cali, the underworld power structures are far from stable. Cali and Pacific Coast drug trafficking routes have remained in constant turmoil since the breakup of the Rastrojos, which was the last group to hold a hegemonic power over the city and region. Medellin has been relatively calm since a mafia pact was struck in 2013, but there are signs the new order established in the wake of the agreement is unstable. New alliances and new conflicts are likely brewing under the quiet surface.
Currently, the only criminal organization with a truly national power is the Urabeños, a paramilitary-mafia hybrid descended from the AUC. However, the network’s organizational structure and modus operandi, which consist of bringing semi-autonomous local cells into their “franchise” and outsourcing to local criminal power structures, leave it vulnerable to challenges on a local level, as has recently happened in numerous regions.
It is far from guaranteed that “Perra loca” or any other recently released criminal overlords will have the motivation or the capacity to regain their lost criminal empires. But the coincidence of so many returning to the scene at a moment when Colombia’s underworld is undergoing tectonic shifts in power risks aggravating an already unstable situation. Crime Insight