Colombia’s police force and the Prosecutor General’s Office were responsible for seizing 39 “luxury” buildings belonging to drug lord “Megateo,” with a value of almost $6.7 million.
The heap of narco-owned buildings located in various cities across Colombia were first identified by The Criminal Investigation Department (DIJIN), authorities confirmed on Wednesday.
“[The buildings] appear to be in the name of women he is very close to, believing that this way he might evade the financial cross-checks,” said the police.
Megateo, real name Victor Ramon Navarro, is the leader of a dissident faction of the officially demobilized EPL. He is heavily involved in drug trafficking in the northeast of Colombia. Currently, he is still on the run after rumors began circulating that the drug lord was shot by the military and then disappeared on August 18 amid a large scale manhunt.
According to authorities, the faction operates in the Catatumbo jungle region that borders Venezuela.
Megateo is not only wanted for his involvement in illicit activity, but also for the illegal fortune that he has acquired in the past decade.
Among the buildings seized were 11 houses, 2 garages, 4 farms, 4 lots and 8 commercial buildings. According to the police, all are spread out in the northeastern cities of Ocaña and Cucuta, the Pacific coast city of Soledad, the southern city of Aguachica, as well as in the northern department of Santander, and the eastern region near Bogota.
Police reported that one of the most interesting properties discovered was a country home in Ocaña, which was equipped with closed circuit video surveillance, security armored doors, and “furnished with luxuries and eccentricities, which are not common in that region of the country, allowing us to infer that the narco-trafficker would have sheltered there some years ago.”
According to El Heraldo, police have been gathering evidence for five years and honed in on the third parties listed as managers or owners of the buildings to eventually uncover who they actually belonged to.
“Lili” was a name that allegedly cropped up on several occasions as owner of some of the buildings, and is also reported to be the woman that provides food and medicine to Megateo. Lili will have to prove who is the rightful owner of the properties under her name.
“Marina”, a former partner of the drug lord in 2010, will also be investigated after authorities reported that she distributed several properties among family members to conceal any suspicions.
The guerrilla-turned-drug lord has been on the run from justice since 1991 when the EPL, the guerrilla group he belonged to, demobilized. Megateo and his men refused to demobilize and over the decades were able to seize significant control of drug trafficking routes in Catatumbo, a breeding ground for other guerrilla and drug trafficking groups.
According to El Tiempo, the drug lord was able to forge alliances with leftist rebel groups like the FARC and ELN and with neo-paramilitary groups “Los Urabeños” and the “Rastrojos,” allowing him to become a centerpiece in regional drug trafficking.
The newspaper has claimed that Megateo is able to traffic some 200 tons of cocaine into Venezuela each year.
The United States considers him one of the country’s main drug lords and offer a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.