Spanish national police have arrested 13 people working as the “collection office” for Colombia’s largest drug trafficking group in the European country, Spanish authorities stated on Tuesday.
Leader of the gang and one of Colombia’s most wanted criminals, 47 year old alias “El Invalido”, was among those arrested in the country-wide operation undertaken by Spanish police, which took place in Barcelona, Madrid and Toledo, according to a statement by the Spanish Interior Ministry.
According to the statement, the dismantling of the Urabeños‘ main operation in Spain — which was responsible for collecting drug-related debts through extortion, kidnapping or targeted killings — stopped the planned kidnapping of a Barcelona-based businessman, who allegedly owed the criminal organization nearly $12.5 million.
The arrested members, nine of whom have already been imprisoned, intended to demand $15.3 million for his release, money that was to be split between the Spain-based group and the criminal organization in Colombia, the statement read.
According to the Interior Ministry, the arrests marks the fourth time an outfit such as this has been dismantled since the international operation called ‘Alliance’ was launched in 2011 with the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation of the Colombian police (DIJIM).
Colombian Chief of Police, General Rodolfo Palomino, said the network arrested on Tuesday consisted of nine Colombians, two Ecuadorians, one Guatemalan and one Pakistani national, El Tiempo reported.
The Colombian authorities have attributed 19 killings, four kidnappings and hundreds of extortions to the Spanish office of the Urabeños.
According to InSight Crime, the Urabeños — emerging from the 2006 demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitary group — are arguably the “last standing” neo-paramilitary criminal organization currently operating in the country.
- La Policía Nacional desarticula una “oficina de cobro” que planeaba el secuestro de un empresario colombiano afincado en Barcelona (Spanish Ministry of Interior Press Release)
- Cae red de sicarios en España, al servicio de los ‘Urabeños’ (El Tiempo)
- The Urabeños – The Criminal Hybrid (InSight Crime)