Colombia’s mafia hired Spanish PR company to erase criminal past

Juan Gonzalo Angel Restrepo

Some of Colombia’s most prominent mafia figures hired a Spanish PR firm to erase publications about their ties to late drug lord Pablo Escobar and former President Alvaro Uribe from Google.

Among the clients of the Spanish firm, Eliminalia, are former Medellin Cartel members Juan Gonzalo Angel and his brother Luis Guillermo, who was pardoned in 1993 after testifying against Escobar.

The Spanish firm threatened to sue Colombia Reports in November last year if this website failed to rectify a 2020 article on the involvement of Colombia’s civil aviation agency, Aerocivil, in the international drug trade.


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According to Eliminalia, this website had made “accusations against Mr. Juan Gozalo (sic) Angel Restrepo and his brother Luis Guillermo Angel” that were “erroneous and inaccurate,” which would be illegal.

Email to Colombia Reports from Eliminalia

Colombia Reports has evidence to sustain every single claim made in that article.

In fact, this website has evidence that the prosecution opened a money laundering investigation against the Angel brothers weeks after Colombia Reports exposed their ties to the Medellin Cartel and Uribe.

According to newspaper El Espectador, the Angel brothers paid Eliminalia 13,000 euro in late 2020 to seek the deletion of the Colombia Reports article and 49 other online news reports referring to their criminal past.


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Who is Juan Gonzalo Angel Restrepo?

Juan Gonzalo Angel was a director of Escobar’s foundation “Medellin Sin Tugurios,” which constructed the neighborhood with the drug lord’s name in the east of the capital of Antioquia in the early 1980’s, according to weekly Semana.

Angel flew former President Alvaro Uribe to his family estate on June 14, 1983 to pick up his injured brother and the remains of his father after a shoot-out, said former Aerocivil director Fernando Sanclemente, who is in jail for his alleged involvement in drug trafficking, in 2007.

Aerocivil press release

Sanclemente made the claim to contradict media that in 1983 reported that Escobar lent Uribe one of his helicopters to travel to the Guacharacas estate.

1983 frontpage of Medellin newspaper El Mundo

According to his LinkedIn page, Angel has been the CEO of a Medellin company called “Globalmedia Telecomunicaciones,” which allegedly owns “four channels include the agricultural sector–focused TVAgro and the news-centered Cablenoticias” and was founded in 2007.

LinkedIn

Two years before, Angel took part in the election of the government’s television regulator, Fernando Alvarez, according to journalist Daniel Coronell.

Between 1993 and 1998, Angel allegedly led the “corporate expansions into new Latin American markets” of the Colombian subsidiary of a foreign company called “Makro Corporations.”

This expansion included the fraudulent purchase of 72.28% of the shares of the subsidiary, Makro Computo SA, by two of Angel’s companies, Colbufalos SA and Zurbaran SA, from its Mexican owners, according to a 2005 court ruling.

Extract from 2005 court ruling

Who is Luis Guillermo Angel Restrepo?

Luis Guillermo Angel, a.k.a. “Guillo,” is one of Colombia’s main drug trafficking bosses, according to a 2021 counternarcotics investigation into the country’s “invisible capos,” and a former pilot of the Medellin Cartel.

Guillo and his company, Helicargo SA, reportedly lost their licenses in 2008 because of its owner’s past involvement in drug trafficking, but continues to have a hangar on Bogota’s El Dorado airport, according to the Yellow Pages and alleged clients.

The company has been registered in Medellin since 1992, according to the former cartel pilot’s LinkedIn page.

Also in 2008, the US Department of Justice began investigating the former cartel pilot on suspicions Guillo was bankrolling the defense of former Medellin Cartel boss Fabio Ochoa, according to newspaper El Tiempo.

The former cartel pilot confirmed that, like Uribe, he was a long-time friend with the Ochoa Clan, and told the newspaper he had sent the extradited cartel boss’s family between $400 and $450 thousand.

“The transfer was the result of payments for damages caused to a plane during an incident in Medellin,” which was in Helicargo’s workshop, according to Guillo.

“The transfer was made by an insurance company in London, it’s all legal,” the former cartel pilot added.

Coronell, the journalist who made Guillo’s allegedly ongoing involvement in drug trafficking public, had been forced to flee Colombia in 2005 after multiple death threats.

In 2009, journalist Maria Jimena Duzan accused the former cartel pilot of being behind a series of death threats against Supreme Court magistrates, lawmakers and government officials when former President Andres Pastrana was in office between 1998 and 2002.

The prosecution began investigating the Angel brothers on money laundering in November 2020, reported exiled former prosecution investigator Richard Maok.

In March 2021, the Agency for Investigative Journalism reported that the National Police’s counternarcotics unit added Guillo to its list of “invisible narcos” that allegedly run much of Colombia’s cocaine exports with the use of front companies.

Amid mounting legal trouble, the brothers hired Eliminalia, which threatened legal action against Colombia Reports in November 2022.

According to an investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and newspaper El Espectador, the Spanish company owned by Diego Gimenez has 58 clients in Colombia and cooperated with ID Security, a Medellin company reportedly owned by a man called Johan Esteban Estrada.

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