The problem of organised crime-related violence is deteriorating in Colombia’s second largest city Medellin as authorities continue to find bodies bearing the marks of a gang-style executions.
The discovery of a corpse in a car in the San Diego neighborhood on Monday became the 17th such case this year where murder victims are abandoned on public roads wrapped in blankets or sacks with signs of gagging.
The police report stated that “the deceased was shot five times in the back, was tied with a yellow rope around his neck, and was lying in underwear, wrapped in blankets.”
The discovery came when residents of the area alerted police after noticing a strange smell coming from the car, which had been parked in the neighborhood for three days.
Mayor Federico Gutierrez, a long-time critic of the security policies of his predecessor Anibal Gaviria, made promises in January to improve the situation when he took office.
However, newly erupted gang wars put the city’s police and mayor under pressure.
According to Medellin’s Security Secretary, so far in 2016 there have been 281 murders committed, 30 more than in the same period of 2015, which implies a 12% increase from last year.
In a recent report, the local government said that 45% of homicides are perpetrated by local organized crime organizations.
Under Gutierrez’s predecessor Gaviria, the city’s crime lords upheld a truce, allegedly bartered by businessmen and politicians with ties to the city’s underworld.
But after Gaviria left office, turf wars erupted between so-called Convivir groups in the center of the city and between gangs in the northwestern districts of Castilla, 12 de Octubre and Robledo.
The wars pushed the number of homicides in the city up 38% in January and February compared to the same period last year and led to a reshuffling of territorial divisions.
The situation escalated to the point that even the mayor was receiving death threats, he claimed were due to his administration’s anti-crime offensives in the downtown area and Castilla.
Following the escalation, leaders of local crime syndicate Oficina de Envigado were reportedly able to calm the situation downtown, but the tensions have remained high in the northwest and the east of the city.
Local media have reported that “mini wars” are fought in the districts of Robledo, Castilla, San Javier and Villa Hermosa are contributing to the tragedies significantly.
In a 2014 study from the Corporation for Peace and Development (Corpades), an estimated 13,500 adolescents in Medellin are involved in 350 gangs affiliated with drug trafficking organizations, though the police estimate the number of gangs to be closer to 100.
Medellin youth had called on the Mayor to take action relating to prevent gang violence and increasing membership but as authorities continue to find corpses in cars, it seems that these calls have fallen on deaf ears.
- En Medellín van 17 hallazgos macabros en lo corrido del año (El Colombiano)
- ¿Por qué el Alcalde de Medellín dice que los combos aumentaron los homicidios por el trabajo de las autoridades? (El Colombiano)
- Nueva víctima por disputa de combos en noroccidente de Medellín (El Colombiano)