The arrest of “Sebastian,” the leader of Medellin-based crime syndicate “Oficina de Envigado,” is not likely to spark a gang war in the city, like that experienced after the 2008 extradition of former Oficina boss “Don Berna,” said organized crime expert Jeremy McDermott Wednesday.
“The ‘combos,’ or gangs, are no longer going to fight for other people. They are now big enough to say ‘no, if you want us to fight for you, you pay us.’ Also, fighting is not good for business,” McDermott told Colombia Reports.
Instead, the biggest of Medellin‘s gangs are more likely to get involved with the more profitable transnational drug trafficking through collaborations with the “Urabeños,” another neo-paramilitary group that, unlike the Oficina, has access to international markets. This would increase the Medellin groups’ income, said the director of organized crime website InSight Crime.
The Medellin gangs lost their international contacts and income from the paramilitary group AUC after the extradition of Don Berna. According to McDermott, the AUC paid the combos with income generated by the international drug trade. To compensate for the cut in income, “microtrafficking and extortion went through the roof” and the gangs began buying marijuana and processing coca paste for domestic use.
“What they’ve now established is that they can buy as much coca paste as they have money for and they can turn it into cocaine, but they can’t export it.”
According to the InSight Crime director, “What is going to happen is that players like [Urabeños commander] ‘Mi Sangre’ are going to have to convince these people that it’s in their interest to work with, say the Urabeños. The only thing they have to offer is the international drug routes.”
“This is the big thing that could allow the supercombos to make the leap into transnational organized crime,” McDermott said.
“If you buy a kilo of cocaine here it costs you between $2000 and $3000. If you get that kilo to Honduras it’s at least $7000 and what the Oficina wants is that $7000 per kilo.”
The Oficina de Envigado was formed by late drug lord Pablo Escobar who paid already existing urban gangs to join his Medellin Cartel’s military wing. Following the death of Colombia’s most famous drug trafficker, the Oficina was incorporated into the AUC’s “Cacique Nutibara” Block controlled by Don Berna.