The power of organized crime in Medellin‘s neighboring city, Bello, has added huge costs and restrictions for businesses hoping to participate in the city’s construction boom, local newspaper El Colombiano reported on Tuesday.
The construction business in the city of Bello, bordering Medellin to the north, takes the term “red tape” to a whole new level.
For any aspiring construction manager, real estate developer or any other type of person that might want to start an urban development movement in Bello, the costs of doing business might prove too much to bear.
Start with at least a $25,000 initial racketeering payment to get the operation started, between $50 and $5,000 every week during the project, and an equally variable protection fee on every single contractor that walks on site to deliver supplies, install windows, dig holes or just do whatever they do. This is the price of doing business in Bello, the price of doing business on the turf of “los Chatas.”
“Los Chatas” have become Bello’s most notorious gang, engaging in everything from killings, forced displacements, threats, theft, drugs and weapons trafficking, disappearances, corruption of public officials and the extortion to residences, commercial establishments, parking, public service vehicles and civil works.
These accumulated crimes have been documented since prosecutors began efforts to dismantle the gang in 2009, even bringing down some of its leaders, such as “Guayabo”, “Alber” and “El Calvo Ruiz”.
But the power of the gang lives on, where today it is led by “Tom” or any one of his pseudonyms – “Carlos Chata”, “Camilo Chata”, “el Viejo” or “Elkin Chata”.
Despite these big roadblocks for doing business, Bello’s construction industry is booming.
In the city’s sprawling 82 neighborhoods, there have been 80 licensed urban projects and partial development plans, where the area could receive up to 38,000 new homes. Construction grew 10% last year, greater than in Medellin and also had more building permits.
In an interview with El Colombiano, an anonymous source said “the business is still very profitable, the profit margin gives the money to pay the fee and plenty else.”
An anonymous architect concluded that “the end customer is affected, because the builder will not lose. For him, spending extortion joins the final budget and those who buy the apartment are the ones who pay – the constructor sets its silver with customer’s pocket.”
- La mafia del ladrillo azota a las construcciones de Bello (El Colombiano)