Colombian police chief General Oscar Naranjo says that authorities believe the massacre of eight people in an Antioquia nightclub in the early hours of Friday morning is the result of a turf war between local narco kingpins “Valenciano” and “Sebastian.”
Speaking to W Radio on Friday, Naranjo said that 600 extra police will be assigned to the Medellin metropolitan area as a result of the massacre, which occurred at 1:45AM in Guanteros nightclub in the municipality of Envigado, which neighbors the central Colombian city of Medellin.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe condemned the incident, first via his Twitter account, where he said “I deplore the massacre of today in Envigado.”
“This tragedy hits hard,” Uribe later told Colombia media at a Casa de Nariño press conference Friday morning. The president immediately dispatched Naranjo to the scene of the crime.
“This Envigado massacre is extremely sad, it shows that the criminal phenomenon of drug trafficking still has an enormous capacity to do damage; the government, the armed forces and the justice system need to do more,” the president said. He did not rule out Naranjo’s theory that the massacre was the result of a feud between drug trafficking gangs.
“I am worried that concern is focused on raising penalties for the carrying of illegal arms, when the concern should be how we stop these criminals from killing citizens,” Uribe said, adding that he will reorganize his agenda so that he can travel to Medellin as soon as possible to convene a security council to discuss the tragedy.
The incident occurred when several hitmen reportedly entered the Envigado club and began shooting indiscriminately. During the ensuing chaos they escaped on high-powered motorbikes while survivors were attending to the injured, according to El Tiempo.
Seven people were killed in the shooting and one person later died in hospital from their injuries. Four of the twelve remaining injured people are in a critical condition. One of the dead has been identified as Jackson Gil, a dual U.S.-Colombian citizen, according to the preliminary police report.
Two police officers are among the injured. They were patrolling the area when the hitmen entered the club, and were wounded when they pursued the perpetrators.
Antioquia government secretary Julian Andres Rendon said machine gun and other high powered gun shells were found at the scene, weapons which are widely used by drug trafficking organizations.
Police said that some of the weapons used in the attack were the same make as arms popular with drug trafficking organizations in Mexico, indicating that the weapons may have been imported to Colombia.
Naranjo will meet Friday with Envigado authorities to discuss the shootings. The national police and the Prosecutor General’s Office will open a joint investigation into the incident.
In April the U.S. offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Valenciano, who has been linked to moving over $25 million in drug money from the United States to Mexico. He was indicted in the Eastern District of New York in 2008.