Officers from Colombia’s National Police detained Julian Cesar Orozco, alias “Torero,” one of Rastrojos’ senior leaders on Monday. Orozco, who resided in Ecuador, was arrested during a trip to Cali, capital of the Valle de Cauca department.
“We have succeeded in breaking an important link in the structure of the Rastrojos,” claimed General Rodolfo Palomino following the arrest. “We found him found in possession of illegal firearms and he admitted to being a leader of the criminal gang Los Rastrojos,” said the general.
Police allege that Orozoco took over responsibilities from Juan Carlos Calle Serna, who was caught and deported from Ecuador in March. They further claimed that Orozco was responsible for the twin bombing attacks in Cali on August 31.
In recent years, Rastrojos has been a powerful transnational criminal syndicate in Colombia. Although they are primarily engaged in exporting cocaine overseas, the criminal band also have interests in extortion, gold mining and kidnapping.
However, the Rastrojos leadership has suffered several blows in 2012. In addition to the capture of Juan Carlos Calle Serna, “Comba” brothers Javier Antonio Calle Serna and Luis Enrique Calle Serna surrendered themselves to authorities in May and October respectively.
To make matters worse for Los Rastrojos, its military chief, Diego Perez Henao, alias “Diego Rastrojo,” was arrested in Venezuela in June.
Orozco’s arrest also follows the demobilization of 17 fighters in Valle del Cauca. On Monday morning, the troop emerged from their encampment in the Garrapatas Canyon and handed themselves in to authorities in the Valle de Cauca department.
These arrests and demobilizations have culminated in the supposed weakening of the Rastrojos, which has previously been regarded as one of Colombia’s deadliest and most sophisticated drug trafficking organizations.