Extortionists continue carrying out armed attacks against businesses in the northern Colombian city of Barranquilla in spite of increased police presence.
Neither of the victims were fatally wounded in the gun attacks, but the bus driver, who works for Sobusa, a bus company, only escaped death after an undercover police officer defended him.
“It is important to recognize that it is the same criminals who are behind the crimes against these two companies,” said General Jose Vincent Segura, commander of the Barranquilla Metropolitan Police.
Sobusa and Uniapuestas, employer of the lottery card vendor, are thought by police to be a target of extortion by “Los Costeños”, an alleged wing of national crime syndicate “Los Rastrojos.”
The link between the two attacks was confirmed by General Humberto Gautibonza, Director of Gaula, the anti-kidnapping and extortion police, who was sent to Barranquilla only a week ago to crack down on the rise of extortion and related violent crimes in the city.
According to police the attack on the bus driver was thwarted by an undercover police officer who had been travelling on the bus. The driver was wounded in the initial attack by assassins on a motorbike and had dropped to the floor of the bus to hide. When the assassins got off their motorbike with the apparent intention of killing him, the undercover police officer shot at them, wounding one, though neither were apprehended.
President Santos had promised to protect the drivers of buses in Barranquilla and Cartagena who have been victims of increasing extortion, saying that the number of undercover officers on buses would be increased.