Colombia’s National Police on Wednesday announced the capture of six suspected leaders of criminal group the Rastrojos following the discovery of nine encampments belonging to the organization in the southwestern region of the country.
In a joint operation with the Colombian Air Force, security forces engaged in an “armed confrontation” with the group near the Garrapatas Canyon in the department of Valle del Cauca, according to an official press release.
Police then arrested six suspected high-ranking members of the Rastrojos, including Leonel Sanchez Mauricio Vargas, alias “Monchino,” who was suspected of heading the group’s militant wing in northwestern Colombia and Carlos Enrique Salazar Guerrero, alias “Guerrero,” thought to be the commander of the Rastrojos in Valle de Cauca.
Authorities discovered nine camps allegedly used for manufacturing and transporting drugs between the departments of Valle del Cauca and Choco. 56 rifles, 8,000 rounds of ammunition, grenades and sensitive documents were also confiscated, according to the federal police agency.
Colombian authorities have dealt a series of damaging blows to the Pacific-based Rastrojos in recent months.
The Ministry of Defense announced Tuesday they had seized a weapons cache belonging to the syndicate, valued at over $90,000.
In early July, police arrested Edison Antonio Pelaez, alias “Mincho,” who, according to officials, served as the acting boss of the Rastrojos after the surrender of Javier Antonio Calle Serna, alias “Comba,” to U.S. authorities in May.