Eight men were found assassinated on Friday in a mansion in Cali, the southwestern Colombian city that had only just able been to show positive results in attempts to lower its staggering homicide rates.
According to local police, the eight victims were found in a holiday home in the rural part south of the city. All men had been killed with a shot in the head in what appeared to be an organized mass execution.
Local newspaper El Pais reported that one of the victims was “J1,” a commander of neo-paramilitary drug trafficking organization “Los Urabeños” who had apparently been released from prison just three months after his arrest.
PROFILE: Los Urabeños
The mansion is property of extradited drug trafficker “Yilmar Valencia,” said the police commissioner of Cali, General Hoover Penilla in a press conference Saturday morning.
The identities of the remaining seven victims have not been established, “but we presume we’re dealing with members of J1’s group,” an anonymous police investigator told El Pais.
“The caretaker of the home assures that that in the afternoon [on Friday] several cars with approximately 15 persons arrived and they met somewhere on the lot. They all knew each other. From one moment to the next, the group divides in two and some submit themselves to the others, they tied their hands and then finished them off,” said Penilla.
“Everything indicates that this is about a vendetta between people dedicated to drug trafficking,” the police chief added.
Cali deputy mayor Javier Pachon said that the available evidence and testimonies indicate that the massacre was not committed by a rival drug trafficking group, but a settling of scores between the organization of J1.
The official said he deplored the massacre, but insisted on stressing how violence indicators in general are showing a downward trend.
“First we need to highlight the good results we’ve been seeing in the city,” the administration official said.
FACT SHEET: Cali crime statistics
The massacre is the second of this magnitude in Cali within a year; 11 months ago, nine people were assassinated in a Cali night club.