2 ‘Urabeños’ killed, 7 arrested in northwest Colombia anti-narcotics operation

"Tierra" (Photo: National Police)

Authorities in northwest Colombia have killed two and arrested seven members of “Los Urabeños,” the country’s largest drug trafficking organization, police and prosecutors claimed Sunday.

According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, among the arrested was Cesar Amaya, alias “Tierra,” accused of being the organization’s fourth in command and allegedly a confidant of Urabeños leader “Otoniel.”

The operation was carried out by prosecution officials with the support of the DIJIN, the criminal investigation unit of Colombia’s National Police. National Police Commander General Rodolfo Palomino said on Twitter that “Tierra” tried preventing arrest by threatening policemen.

According to the prosecution, the operation that ended in the killing of two and arrest of seven “Urabeños” began in the northwestern Uraba region on Saturday afternoon and lasted for 24 hours.

The Urabeños were formed in the first decade of this century from mid-level commanders of paramilitary organization AUC. While the paramilitaries formally demobilized, mid-level commanders formed criminal organizations that sought to take over the AUC’s drug routes.

Following years of infighting between the different neo-paramilitary groups, the Urabeños, recently renamed “The Usaga Clan” by national authorities, are the largest of neo-paramilitary groups. The organization controls most drug trafficking along the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Colombia.

PROFILE: Urabeños

The group originates from the Uraba region that has had strong paramilitary activity since the 1980s. Only weeks before this weekend’s operation, authorities arrested 32 local politicians from the region because of their alleged ties to the Urabeños. Some 20 more local politicians fled before police could arrest them.

MORE: 32 northwest Colombia politicians arrested over criminal ties



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