Colombian police say they have arrested 300 members of criminal gangs so far this year, striking especially hard against the drug-trafficking organization ERPAC.
The neo-paramilitary group, headed by Pedro Olivero Guerrero, alias “Cuchillo,” is especially active in the Meta, Guaviare, Casanare, Guainia, Guaviare and Vichada departments in eastern Colombia, bordering Venezuela.
Police arrested eleven members of ERPAC on January 21. Between February 2 and 3, security forces nabbed Oscar Alfredo Cardenas, alias “El Gato.” He used to work alongside Cuchillo’s right-hand man, “Pijarbey,” who was arrested last December in a serious blow to the organization.
In early February police also arrested Irene Vesga Medina, alias “Mariela,” who worked as a nurse for ERPAC.
Police also targeted illegal gangs operating on the Atlantic coast. In Santa Marta, police arrested Enrique Correa Salguedo, alias “Kike,” the head assassin for a criminal group based in Uraba.
Cartagena also saw the arrest of Jonhattan Saldarriaga Cardona, alias “Tatan,” who handled coastal operations for “Los Paisas” in the city. “Los Paisas” is most active in the central Antioquia and Cordoba departments.
Los Paisas, ERPAC and Valenciano’s syndicate are among the largest criminal organizations trafficking drugs from Colombia. Police have previously estimated that there are 3,700 people working for six major criminal organizations.