Colombian police on Wednesday captured the leader of an Ecuadorian drug trafficking organization and top associate of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the boss of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, after he escaped from prison in February.
Cesar Demar Vernaza, alias “El Empresario,” was arrested in Colombia’s third largest city, Cali, in a joint Colombian-Ecuadorian operation. He escaped from a maximum-security prison in Guayaquil, Ecuador, known as “La Roca” or “The Rock,” where he was serving a 25-year sentence for homicide. He was the leader of the Ecuadorian drug trafficking organization known as “Los Templados.”
Police also captured alias “La Bestia” who was among the 16 criminals sprung from jail on February 11. It is believed in Ecuador that the prison break was facilitated by El Chapo. Allegations of co-conspiracy have been leveled against several officials. The escapees disabled guards and cameras, and made off in a boat that awaited them, according to Colombian newspaper El Espectador. Both captured men had Interpol red notices.
La Bestia, upon notification of the warrant for his arrest, took the residents who lived in his building hostage and threatened to blow up a gas tank. Authorities negotiated him down and he ultimately surrendered, reported newspaper Semana.
The Ecuadorian drug traffickers fled to Colombia not only to escape the police but also to link with criminal gangs in the southwest Valle del Cauca department and to seek new trafficking routes to the Pacific.
Rumors of the presence of the Sinaloa cartel near the Ecuadorian border have caused some concern among Colombian officials.
- Cae en Colombia socio del ‘Chapo’ Guzman en Ecuador (El Espectador)
- Los mas buscados de Ecuador, escondidos en Colombia (Semana)
- Caen “la bestia” y “el empresario” (El Diaro Ecuador)
- Capturados principales cabecillas (Policia Nacional de Colombia)