Authorities have arrested an additional seven men who worked for one of the biggest narco-trafficking rings in Colombia.
The arrests strike a blow against the criminal empire headed by Luis Enrique Calle Serna, alias “Comba,” one of the most powerful druglords in the country and head of the neo-paramilitary group “Los Rastrojos.”
Colombia’s security agency DAS had previously arrested two men wanted for extradition to the U.S., including Comba’s right-hand man, Marlon Valencia, who was responsible for coordinating shipments to the U.S. via Costa Rica and Panama. According to DAS, when its agents detained Valencia in Cali, he offered them $5 million in return for his freedom.
DAS agents had also previously detained Ramiro Antury, a military lawyer who accepted bribes from the “Comba” syndicate. He fed narco-traffickers information about ongoing criminal investigations, which allowed the smugglers to elude arrest.
The seven men arrested in addition to Valencia and Antury performed a wide range of operations for the “Comba” ring, including money laundering and shipping drugs in speedboats from Colombia’s Pacific coast to Panama, Honduras and Costa Rica.
The clampdown, known as Operation Sea Clamp, involved the DAS as well as anti-narcotic agencies from the U.S. and Costa Rica. In the two years since the multi-national effort took effect, authorities have intercepted about 15 tons of drugs.
This mass arrest follows another joint operation, Operation Frontiers, which led to the arrests of 21 traffickers also wanted for extradition to the U.S. This was the biggest U.S.-Colombia anti-drug operation since Operation “Milienio” in 1999.