BOGOTÁ, Colombia – José Fabián Patiño Guzmán, the alleged leader of the “La Cordillera” (The Mountain Range) gang, has been apprehended by police in Pereira, the capital city of the department of Risaralda, officials said on March 7.
Patiño Guzmán, who goes by the alias “Niño Fabián,” is suspected of committing more than 100 homicides and coordinating the gang’s extensive narcotics trafficking network in the Eje Cafetero region.
“For us he was the ‘Mono Jojoy’ of criminal activity in Eje Cafetero... the headache of that zone,” said General José Guzmán, according to the Colombian daily El Espectador. “What’s more, he directed a very powerful group of assassins and is the person responsible for innumerable homicides.”
The gang allegedly trafficked narcotics throughout the Eje Cafetero region, which encompasses the departments of Caldas, Risaralda, Quindío, the northeast of Valle del Cauca, and the southwest of Antioquia, officials said.
“On top of the trafficking, they also recruited people for their service, employing them in the settling of accounts, homicide, taking care of laboratories and access routes to the Colombian Pacific Coast, from where the narcotics were sent to Central America, the U.S., and Europe,” Guzmán said, according to El Espectador.
Patiño Guzmán demobilized from an Antioquia bloc of the paramilitary structure run by Carlos Mario Jiménez Naranjo in 2006, officials said.
Patiño Guzmán is being held in prison while authorities compile their case.
Colombia: Navy seizes cocaine shipment from boat
BOGOTÁ, Colombia – Colombia’s Pacific Naval Force seized 363 kilograms (799 pounds) of cocaine in the false bottom of a boat bound for Panama, authorities said on March 5.
The boat, named the “Ariana,” was intercepted off Colombia’s central Pacific coast by units of the Colombian Coast Guard with the support of naval aircraft and the marines. The boat had departed from the coastal city of Buenaventura and was headed to Panama, authorities said.
Three men aboard the boat fled but were later apprehended by ground forces. Authorities said the alleged drug traffickers had stashed the drugs in a false bottom under the boat’s seats.
Colombia’s Pacific naval forces have confiscated about four metric tons (8,800 pounds) of cocaine since Feb. 1, according to the Colombian daily El Tiempo.
Honduran police officer injured during narcotics bust
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – A Honduran police officer was injured by drug smugglers during a gunfight that culminated in the confiscation of four bales of cocaine and the arrest of a suspect, Security Minister Óscar Álvarez said.
The battle started after police officers and military troops converged on a plane that had landed on a hidden landing strip in the Caribbean province of Gracias a Dios last week, Álvarez said.
The police officer, whose name was not released, was treated for non-life-threatening injuries he sustained during the 20-minute firefight. Police officers took Daniel González Wilson, a 43-year-old Honduran national, into custody after the firefight, according to EFE.
The police and military personnel raided the narcotics-laden plane with the assistance of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Álvarez said.
The seizure occurred about a week after Honduran security forces confiscated two tons of cocaine from a boat off the coast of Gracias a Dios.
Nicaragua: 25 kilograms of cocaine seized
MANAGUA, Nicaragua – The United States and Nicaraguan naval forces arrested 12 suspected narcotics traffickers and seized 25 kilograms (55 pounds) of cocaine after raiding a boat 64 kilometers north of Puerto Cabezas in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN), Nicaraguan Navy Lt. Cmdr. Wilfredo Castañeda said.
The bust highlighted an agreement between Nicaragua and the United States to work together to fight international narcotics trafficking.
The narcotics had a street value of US$750,000, said Capt. Patrick Culver, who headed the U.S. Coast Guard crew on the Dauntless, according to the Nicaraguan news website La Prensa.com.
The cocaine, 5,000 kilograms (11,000 pounds) of frozen fish and the vessel were turned over to Nicaraguan authorities.
13 Mexican military members convicted of trafficking narcotics
MEXICO CITY – Thirteen members of the Mexican military have been found guilty of trafficking cocaine and methamphetamine while on duty, the country’s defense secretary said in a statement.
Three officers and 10 troops were convicted on narcotics and organized crime charges for their roles in the trafficking of 928 kilograms (2,041 pounds) of methamphetamine and 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of cocaine, the statement said.
The defense secretary’s statement did not reveal the details of the sentences the military members were dealt, according to CNN.
The narcotics had a street value of more than US$120 million, according to estimates in the United Nations World Drug Report 2010.
Mexican President Felipe Calderón has deployed about 50,000 military personnel to assist police officers in areas considered hotbeds of narcotics activity.