Following the initial confusion, it emerged that the detainee was Gustavo Alvaro Tellez, alias “Tavo,” who is in fact Valenciano’s right-hand man. He was caught on the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba.
Salazar acknowledged his mistake and apologized, explaining that “a senior police official gave me as certain the news about ‘Valenciano.’ I released it [the information] with joy. But it was not true,” Spanish press agency EFE reported.
Drug lord Valenciano, who real name is
Maximiliano Bonilla Orozco, is the leader of Medellin-based neo-paramilitary drug gang Oficina de Envigado and thought to be responsible for thousands of deaths in northwest Colombia.
The 38-year-old is wanted by the U.S. State Department to face drug trafficking charges. Washington offers a $5 million reward for the arrest of the drug lord, who has played a significant role in the rising bloodshed in Medellin. It stems from former leader “Don Berna’s” 2008 extradition to the U.S., with Valenciano battling rival Oficina de Envigado member, alias “Sebastian,” for control of the region.
Tavo’s extradition is also sought by the U.S. and despite the initial disappointment over the mistaken reports about the detainee, his capture is still considered to be a “strategic blow” to the criminal organization, according to Police Chief General Oscar Naranjo.
There is a possibility that Tavo could be extradited directly to the U.S., rather than being returned to Colombia, given that U.S. DEA agents were also present at the capture. The extradition has apparently already been endorsed by the Supreme Court, according to Caracol Radio.