The investigation that so far has led to the arrest of 10 policemen is only the latest embarrassment for Mayor Federico Gutierrez, whose initial security secretary is in prison for ties to the city’s crime syndicate, the “Oficina de Envigado.”
News media from Medellin have failed to inform locals about the kidnapping gang that allegedly operates from within the city’s own police department.
But according to several Bogota-based media, the prosecution believes that the group dedicated to kidnapping, “Los Magnificos,” is led by top officials within the Medellin Police Department.
“There are high-ranking officials as well as civilians we are investigating for their membership of this criminal organization,” an anonymous investigator told newspaper El Tiempo.
According to the newspaper, the kidnappers had access to classified information and have been kidnapping and extorting the Medellin residents they swore to serve and protect since 2015.
The discovery of the criminal activity carried out from inside the police department highlights the level of corruption within the institution once called La Oficina’s “best friend” by a local mafia boss.
In the last year alone, the police department has been discredited by its members’ involvement in cop killings, drug dealing and providing classified information to top mafia personalities who have become part of the city’s traditional elite.
Medellin’s department and the city’s elite have been accused of ties to organized crime for decades, particularly after the rise of Pablo Escobar and his Medellin Cartel in the 1970s.
The influx of much of the revenue of Colombia’s drug trade has profoundly corrupted the city’s institutions and has slowly warped the political and popular culture in the country’s second largest city.
Despite sincere attempts to rid Medellin of its image as a narco paradise, the ongoing scandals and revelations of ties between authorities, elites and organized crime have made this impossible.
The city’s corruption and institutional weakness are mainly affecting the city’s middle and lower classes that often are confronted with violence, extortion and chronic state neglect.