A “surgical” multinational operation has led to the capture of “Mi Sangre,” “the terror in Medellin,” Colombia’s National Police commander said Wednesday.
As part of the international war on drugs, Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office and the country’s National Police joined forces with the DEA, Interpol and Argentine authorities to bring down notorious drug leader, Henry de Jesus Lopez Londoño, a top commander of neo-paramilitary group the Urabeños, Police General Jose Roberto Leon said at a press conference in Bogota.
Mi Sangre was captured in Buenos Aires where he had been living for the last two years.
In spite of the Medellin native’s criminal history, fearsome reputation, and growing presence in his home town, police failed to apprehend the gang leader on several occasions even with former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe publicly calling for his arrest in 2009.
Lopez was arrested in June of 2010 in Antioquia‘s northern Bajo Cauca region but was released due to lack of evidence. As late as July of 2011, there were no outstanding arrest warrants out for the drug lord despite his links to international drug trafficking operations and the death threats he made against a Colombian journalist.
In April it was rumored that “Mi Sangre” might turn himself in to face extradition to the United States as other top narcos were doing at the time, but his growing power as one of the top commanders of the Urabeños apparently dissuaded him.
According to Wednesday’s press conference, the Urabeños and Mi Sangre had become the largest drug supplier to the Mexican mafias. This feat allowed them to retake areas previously controlled by rival gangs, “Los Rastrojos” and the “Oficina de Envigado”.
Leon said that Lopez met with emissaries of “The Zetas”, Mexico’s most violent cartel, minutes before his arrest.
This is not the first time international efforts have joined together to try and take down the gang leader. Last May, Mi Sangre was arrested in Argentina at the behest of Interpol but was released on a technicality. Police did not lose track of the Urabeño leader and thanks to two informants and extensive surveillance, five months later authorities successfully apprehended one of Colombia’s most wanted criminals.
“The message is clear,” General Leon said Wednesday morning, “in Colombia and in any country, the space for criminals is shrinking…The police will use all of its resources to capture, no matter who or what is left.”
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos thanked Argentina for its support in the arrest of one of Colombia’s most wanted criminals.
Felicitamos a @policiacolombia y agradecemos a autoridades de Argentina por captura de alias “Mi Sangre”.Otro golpe a bacrim y narcotráfico
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) October 31, 2012
Mi Sangre was first reported to be living in Argentina two years ago where the drug lord was posing as a wealthy Venezuelan businessman. Allegedly equipped with seven passports, the drug lord frequently moved between Venezuela, Uruguay, Ecuador, Mexico and Paraguay with ease. Reports indicate however, that Buenos Aires had become the gang leader’s base of operations.
Earlier this year, Argentina’s Minister of Security, Nilda Garre, expressed concerns that her country was becoming a refuge for some of Colombia’s most dangerous criminals. The Nordelta sector of Buenos Aires where Lopez was living with his wife and two children is a known tax haven.