According to Santos, Colombia will respond to a pending extradition request from U.S. authorities. The operation in which Sebastian was captured, dubbed “Operation Sparta,” was carried out with the participation of Special Forces of the Colombian police, who arrested Sebastian in the northeast of Medellin.
Police said a reward of around $670,000 would be given to “a Colombian citizen” for giving information leading up to the capture of Sebastian.
Santos then sent a message of warning to other prominent drug traffickers active in Colombia. “Sooner or later they will fall. They have fallen one after another […] and many who thought they were untouchable are in prison or in the grave,” concluded Santos.
The 38-year-old Erick Vargas Cardona, alias Sebastian, began his criminal career in the 1990s when he became a low-ranked member of Oficina de Envigado, the military wing of Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel. The cartel member joined his superior “Don Berna” in the Pepes, a vigilante group that had turned against Escobar and his cartel together with Colombian security forces.
After the death of Escobar, Don Berna took over the Oficina and integrated Escobar’s army into his paramilitary “Cacique Nutibara Block” that assumed Escobar’s control of the Medellin underworld and part of the late capo’s drug trafficking routes.
Sebastian became top commander of the crime syndicate in 2008 following the extradition of Don Berna and a successful war with fellow-Oficina commander “Valenciano” who was arrested in Venezuela in 2011.
The Oficina de Envigado is considered one of the most powerful criminal organizations in Colombia. It controls most of the drug trade and extortion in Medellin.