“Cuchillo,” one of Colombia’s most wanted drug lords, was killed while celebrating Christmas Eve after a three-week police operation, newspaper El Tiempo reported Wednesday.
Colombia’s National Police did not announce the death of Pedro Oliveiro Guerrero, alias Cuchillo, until Tuesday when his body was taken to Bogota for identification by a coroner.
The director of the coroner’s office told Caracol Radio that it has received the corpse and plans to confirm the identity of the body before noon Wednesday. According to other media, the body is in an advanced state of decomposition.
President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday had not confirmed the death of the paramilitary drug lord. A press conference is scheduled at 9:30AM Wednesday.
Of all Colombian media, newspaper El Tiempo was the only one to provide details of the operation in which Cuchillo was killed.
According to the paper, he was surprised by 150 police, counter-narcotics, and intelligence officials only minutes after midnight while was proposing a Christmas toast to his men.
The authorities had been on his tail since December 7, when police intelligence found out the drug lord was in a camp near the Siare river, close to the village of Mapiripan in the central Colombian department of Meta.
On the evening of December 24, operations in several parts of the country were carried out to ensure that informants of the drug lord could not warn their boss, as had happened in previous occasions, the newspaper reported.
When arriving in the camp, police and members of Cuchillo’s ERPAC paramilitary group exchanged fire. At that point, Cuchillo — injured — knew to escape.
According to El Tiempo, he died of his injuries while trying to avoid capture and was found by special forces at 5AM. Seven of his men, including his second in command, were arrested.
Oliverio used to be a member of the paramilitary organization AUC, but refused to join the paramilitary demobilization between 2003 and 2006 and formed ERPAC (Popular Anti Terrorist Revolutionary Army).
Cuchillo’s group was active near the border with Venezuela and allegedly worked with Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, who is still at large.
According to crime analyst website Insight Crime, it is unclear what will happen with Cuchillo’s organization. The website says “there is no clear successor, and the group could divide into mini-groups, posing a different type of challenge to Colombian authorities.”