Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office seized 10 properties on Tuesday formerly belonging to a pair of high-level paramilitaries and drug lords, reported national media.
The assets, worth an estimated $7.5 million, were captured as part of a joint operation led in conjunction with the National Army, according to the Vanguardia newspaper.
Brothers Victor and Miguel Angel Mejia, better known by their alias, “Los Mellisos” (The Twins), were members of the now-defunct AUC paramilitary umbrella and considered to be among the country’s primary narco-traffickers. Victor was killed during his arrest in 2008 and his brother was subsequently extradited to the United States.
The properties in question were located in the municipalities of Pueblo Nuevo, Valencia and Monterpia in the northern state of Cordoba, reported Vanguardia, and were “all acquired with money from drug trafficking,” said Julian Quintana, the lead detective in the case.
The first operation was performed in Monteria, where the prosecutor’s division of money laundering began the process of forfeiture of an apartment and a parking lot located in a luxurious residential area of the city. These properties were valued at $68,000.
A second operation was carried out in Pueblo Nuevo, where the prosecutor occupied the “Bonanza” estate. According to the police, the property “was acquired by forced from the former inhabitants, and now appears divided into seven farms or lots, all dedicated to livestock.”
Meanwhile, in Valencia, six more rural properties were seized, also dedicated to animal husbandry, including the 126-acre “La Palmera” ranch, the 59-acre “Caño” farm, and the 74-acre “Palma del Vino” estate.
According to the investigation, after Los Mellisos acquired the properties, they used a series of fake business transactions to register them in other people’s names. In 2011, authorities seized an apartment from the brothers in Bogota, where they found two stashes of $17, 500. According to VerdadAbierta, Los Mellisos were placed on the United States’ list of the 12 most wanted drug traffickers in 2004.
Valencia, Pueblo Nuevo and Monteria: Cordoba
- Ocupan en Córdoba 10 bienes de ‘Los Mellizos’ avaluados en $15 mil millones (Vanguardia.com)
- Ocupan bienes de “los Mellizos” en Córdoba (El Colombiano)