Medellin Mayor Alonso Salazar expressed his gratitude to the Venezuelan government Monday for capturing Colombian drug lord, Maximiliano Bonilla, alias “Valenciano.”
“We must give thanks to the Venezuelan government for the operation,” Salazar announced, after congratulating Colombia’s police force for their part in the operation.
The mayor also added that in recent months Valenciano had strengthened ties with illegal groups such as the FARC, ELN, and BACRIM, to “safeguard and supply” the drug trade in the department of Antioquia.
Salazar warned that Valenciano’s former ally turned rival, Ericson Vargas, alias “Sebastian,” never acknowledged the drug lord’s position as the head of Medellin’s “Oficina de Envigado” — a faction that stemmed from Pablo Escobar‘s drug trafficking empire. The relationship between the two men broke down after their predecessor, “Don Berna,” was extradited to the United States in May, 2008.
Sebastian currently controls an estimated 85% of Colombia’s second largest city, focusing primarily on the consolidation of micro-trafficking within Medellin. Valenciano had sought to cast a wider net, forging links with Mexican drug cartels and other international traffickers.
The timing of Valenciano’s capture in Venezuela coincides with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ visit to the country to discuss illegal groups and drug trafficking with his counterpart, Hugo Chavez.