Colombia police said Monday they have arrested a top drug trafficker, linked to neo-paramilitary groups the “Paisas” and the “Urabeños.”
Neo-paramilitary commander “El Puma” was arrested near Taraza, a town in the Bajo Cauca region that has been the scene of heavy fighting between groups formed by former AUC and rivals of the “Rastrojos” since its demobilization between 2003 and 2006.
According to the police, German Bustos, alias El Puma, was the top leader of the Paisas. However, media have reported that the former member of the paramilitary AUC had joined the Urabeños.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who is visiting the United States, congratulated the police via Twitter for arresting one of Colombia’s most wanted neo-paramilitary leaders.
Felicitaciones a la @policiacolombia por la captura de alias “El Puma”, líder de la llamada banda “Los Paisas”
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) September 25, 2012
El Puma officially demobilized with the AUC in 2006, but continued running the paramilitaries’ drug trade in Bajo Cauca, together with “Mono Vides” and “Chepe” under the name of the Paisas.
Following the death of Mono Vides in 2010, the Paisas fell in two. Chepe and Puma aligned with the Urabeños who continue to fight the Rastrojos in the region while other members joined the rival group.
Puma faces drug trafficking charges in the United States.