A campaign chief of former President Alvaro Uribe and presidential candidate Federico Gutierrez has reportedly been doing business with narcos for years.
The ties between Gutierrez’s campaign and organized crime were revealed by newspaper El Espectador and the frontrunner in the elections. opposition Senator Gustavo Petro.
El Espectador revealed on Sunday that businessman Cesar Giraldo, a.k.a. “Calzones,” has had ties to drug traffickers from the iconic coffee region for years.
Petro subsequently accused Calzones of being behind a plan to assassinate the frontrunner during a visit to the home turf of organized crime group “La Cordillera” earlier this month.
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La Cordillera is an organized crime group that has controlled most organized crime rackets in the coffee region over the past 15 years.
Calzones has reportedly been doing business with local narcos and became Uribe’s “special delegate” in the city of Pereira during the same period, according to El Espectador.
The self-proclaimed entrepreneur is the founder of Uribe’s “Democratic Center” party in Pereira and one of the former president’s closest allies in the surrounding Risaralda province.
Calzones is also a mafia boss and the coordinator of the campaign of establishment candidate Federico Gutierrez, a.k.a. “Duque 2,” according to Petro.
He owns loansharking in the city of Pereira and is the head of the Duque 2 campaign, looking for the electoral majority in Pereira for Duque 2 to become president. I had to suspend the rally there because they said they were going to kill me, the same armed men who collect the loans that the threatened lady has to pay at gunpoint at a 20% daily rate so that alias Calzones can become a millionaire.
Senator Gustavo Petro
In a response, Uribe confirmed that Calzones “has been an activist of our party” in Pereira, and has done so “honorably.”
The former president urged the Prosecutor General’s Office to verify if the Petro’s alleged assassination plot was real.
It is necessary to know promptly if this is a whiff of Mr. Petro or if the plot exists.
Former President Alvaro Uribe
Prosecutor General Francisco Barbosa, a subordinate of Uribe, announced an investigation almost immediately after the opposition leader made the alleged kill plot public.
Petro’s security detail surrendered evidence of the alleged conspiracy to police almost two weeks ago after which the prosecution went quiet.
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Calzones’ dirty deals
Newspaper El Espectador published the political, criminal and criminal connections Calzone has accumulated in the 20 years after starting his career with a food stand on the local market 20 years ago.
Since then, the family of the self-proclaimed entrepreneur accumulated 127 properties, including luxury townhouses, a restaurant and a car dealership that sells some of Pereira’s most expensive vehicles, according to El Espectador.
Calzones acquired multiple properties from family members of drug traffickers associated with La Cordillera and its predecessor, the Norte del Valle Carte, according El Espectador.
The Pereira “entrepreneur” bought his first narco assets in 2005 from the wife and daughter of Jose Luis Vallejo, a fugitive drug trafficker at the time.
Calzones’ continued to buy properties from the Vallejo family until 2012, four years after the extradition of the narco, El Espectador found out.
Uribe’s associate in Pereira abought a farm from the family of Jonny Andres Valencia in 2015 after the arrest of this drug trafficker in Brazil.
In 2017, Calzones reportedly bought a property from a former associate of La Cordillera boss “El Meme,” who was assassinated in Pereira in 2015.
Uribe’s “special delegate” in Pereira
While buying mafia properties, Calzones founded the regional branch of the Democratic Center party in Pereira and allegedly became “Uribe’s special delegate” in the coffee region.
In 2016, the mafia associate was Uribe’s regional campaign coordinator ahead of a referendum to reject a peace deal with now-defunct guerrilla group FARC.
Calzones met with Duque in 2017 after the mafia associate became the regional coordinator of the president’s 2018 campaign.
Calzones was invited Duque’s inauguration together with “El Ñeñe,” the late money launderer of the drug trafficking organization of Marcos Figueroa who had been campaigning for the president in the north of the country.
The mafia associate’s 24-year-old son, Cristian Camilo Giraldo, is currently on of Gutierrez’s regional campaign chiefs in Pereira.
The establishment’s candidate’s rally in Pereira on Sunday was marred by evidence indicating that regional businesses were offering locals money to attend the gathering.
“Fico’s” previous mafia problems
The scandal caused his campaign in Pereira isn’t the first for Gutierrez, who was mayor of Medellin between 2015 and 2019.
In 2018, Gutierrez’s former security secretary, Gustavo Villegas, was sent to prison after prosecutors found evidence that the Medellin dynasty politician had ties to “La Oficina de Envigado.”
Medellin security secretary arrested on organized crime charges
This organized crime group was originally founded by late drug lord Pablo Escobar, whose Medellin Cartel was close to the Uribe family.
How Colombia’s former president helped kick-start the Medellin Cartel
“Fico’s ” administration additionally granted government contracts to a firm that belonged to the family of late Medellin Cartel trafficker Ramiro Arturo Correa, investigative journalism website Cuestion Publica revealed earlier this year.
The Correa clan previously had made deals with Gutierrez’s predecessor and rival in the elections, Sergio Fajardo, and former Medellin Mayor Luis Perez, who dropped out of the race last week.