The body of a former congressman who was presumed dead after an apparently botched robbery was found in a river north of the city of Cali on Sunday.
According to local media, the body of former congressman Octavio Zapata was found floating in the Cauca river close to the village of Paso La Torre.
Family members have identified the remains as those of the lawmaker who went missing on June 24.
According to National Police chief General Jose Roberto Leon, former congressman Octavio Zapata presumably died of an overdose of scopolamine, a drug used in so-called “millionaire rides” in which a victim is drugged and, because of the effects of the drug, willingly helps his assailants to get what they want.
“One common and particularly dangerous method that criminals use in order to rob a victim is through the use of drugs. The most common has been scopolamine. Unofficial estimates put the number of annual scopolamine incidents in Colombia at approximately 50,000. Scopolamine can render a victim unconscious for 24 hours or more. In large doses, it can cause respiratory failure and death. It is most often administered in liquid or powder form in foods and beverages. The majority of these incidents occur in night clubs and bars, and usually men, perceived to be wealthy, are targeted by young, attractive women. To avoid becoming a victim of scopolamine, one should never accept food or beverages offered by strangers or new acquaintances or leave food or beverages unattended. Victims of scopolamine or other drugs should seek immediate medical attention.”
U.S. State Department
Police last week said to have arrested seven suspects after the presumed allies of the robbers tried using Zapata’s bank card in the capital Bogota and were registered by surveillance cameras.
The arrests were made in Palmira, a town west of Cali. Four of the suspects belong to one family, said police.
Cali, where Zapata was from, is one of Colombia’s most violent cities. While crime rates throughout Colombia have gone down over the past years, those of Cali have gone up. In 2012, Cali had by far the highest homicide rates of all Colombia’s largest cities.
Zapata’s death is the second fatality in a millionaire’s ride to hit national headlines within a month. Only a few weeks ago, a DEA agent was murdered in an apparent attempt to take him on a millionaire’s ride in Bogota.
Cali, Valle del Cauca
- Cadáver hallado en el río Cauca sería del excongresista Octavio Zapata (El Espectador)
- Familiares identifican cadáver del excongresita Octavio de Jesús Zapata (RCN Radio)
- Grupo Del Gaula Busca El Cuerpo Del Excongresista Del Valle Octavio Zapata (El Pais)
- Asesinado Ex Diputado Del Valle Tras Paseo Millonario (RCN Radio)