Seven officers from various branches of Colombia’s public security forces were arrested in the northern Colombia city of Cartagena for alleged ties to drug traffickers, reported local media Tuesday.
The officers, serving in Colombia’s National Police, Navy, and Technical Investigative Unit (CTI) of the Prosecutor General’s Office, are said to be linked to the criminal group “Los Costeños.”
The seven public officials were arrested early Tuesday morning as part of “Operation Independence,” which conducted nine raids in Cartagena in an attempt to dismantle the Los Costeños criminal gang, according to Colombia’s Radio Santa Fe.
According to Cartagena’s CTI, those arrested included three members of the National Police, two from the Navy, and two from the CTI of the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Overall, there were at least 12 people arrested in Tuesday’s sweep.
Investigations into the accused have been ongoing for about a year. Those arrested in the operation are being charged with drug trafficking and manufacturing and possession of illegal firearms and ammunition.
Director of Public Safety in Cartagena Luis Gonzalez said, “According to the evidence that we have, [they] were probably supplying to dispensing, retailing, and narcotic sites. They supplied, probably, weapons to criminals from Cartagena and Bolivar,” according to Cartagena’s El Universal newspaper.
According to Santa Fe, the Los Costeños are dedicated to drug trafficking, distributing illegal firearms, and regional homicides.
Both groups are drug trafficking organizations that export cocaine mainly from Colombia’s Pacific coast, but the Los Rastrojos also have had a presence in Venezuela.