Arnulfo Sanchez Gonzalez, Colombia’s most wanted criminal in the northern department La Guajira, continues to elude capture and run his criminal network thanks to help from the local Wayuu tribe, who consider him a “god,” according to El Heraldo.
Sanchez, alias “Pablo”, is being tracked by an elite group of 150 judicial investigators with the help of police intelligence. The operation started last year but Pablo has avoided arrest by moving across the border into Venezuela under the protection of the Wayuu, earning him the alias “The Lord of the Desert.”
“Capturing Pablo and his gang has been difficult because this bandit is protected by the indigenous people. The Wayuu look at him as though he was a ‘god’ because he gives them money and things in exchange for protection,” said General Oscar Gamboa, who commands the Regional 8 of the National Police.
The ongoing investigation suggests Sanchez was a member of the Counterinsurgency Wayuu Front of the paramilitary group Bloque Norte, which demobilized in 2006 under the leadership of Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, aka Jorge 40. Allegedly Sanchez controls the drug routes and the influx of weapons and contraband gasoline previously run by the Bloque Norte.
According to one narcortics investigator Sanchez arrived in La Guajira empty handed but managed to build a fortune from drugs trafficking over a 12 year period. Gamboa insists thats drugs and weapons seizures have hurt Pablo but acknowledges the difficulty of capturing him because of his relationship with the Wayuu tribe.
As of the July 2 there have been 126 crimes reported in La Guajira, one more than the equivalent period the year before. The authorties blame the increase on The Lord of the Desert.