The Colombian army detained five of its members on Wednesday in Antioquia caught delivering over 600 kilograms of cocaine to criminal groups.
The commander of the Colombian army’s Seventh Brigade, Colonel Javier Vallejo, announced the capture of a lieutenant, corporal, and three soldiers following a week of intelligence efforts. Also captured were four members of the criminal organization “The Urabaños,” one of Colombia’s numerous ‘criminal bands.’
The Urabeños, founded in 2006 by narcotics trafficker Daniel Rendon Herrera, alias “Don Mario,” are today one of Colombia’s strongest and most dangerous “criminal bands,” many of whose members were former paramilitary soldiers who chose not to lay down their arms during the demilitarization drive of such organizations in 2005.
According to the Prosecutor General’s office, the detained military men were caught off-guard, wearing uniforms and carrying army-issued weapons.
According to a recent report in the L.A. Times, a kilo of cocaine can be sold anywhere from $17,000 and $21,000. The value of the seized drugs today could therefore lie between $10.25 million and $12.663 million.
Colombia’s armed forces have been plagued for years with accusations of corruption and humans rights abuses as a result of its historically uncomfortable relationship with the country’s paramilitary and narcotics-trafficking organizations. According to those who make such claims, at best the army is simply unable to control its members, while at worse it turns a blind eye to such activities.
Such news came on the same day that news broke that one of Colombia’s most powerful captured narcotics traffickers, “Chupeta,” allegedly paid millions of dollars he paid to 16 generals in the army and police force, 3 admirals, 7 colonels and two frigate captains.