Members of CTI, the police force of Colombia’s prosecutor’s office, detained the owner of the largest transportation companies in the country at his farm Thursday on suspicion of being a member of a paramilitary group.
Prosecutors in the department of Antioquia accuse Hugo Albeiro Quintero, owner of Bellanita de Transportes, of being a member of the paramilitary and drug-trafficking organization of Vincente Castaño, a charge the businessman has previously rejected, reported El Tiempo.
“I will give my business to anyone who brings me any evidence that I’m a narcotrafficker or paramilitary and, if something appears, its because they planted it,” Quintero told the newspaper.
The businessman, who during the interview with El Tiempo showed the scars of the 14 bullets that struck him in an assassination attempt by the Office of Envigado sent for failing to pay protection money, was mentioned by ex-paramilitary chief Éver Velosa, a.k.a. ‘HH’, in August testimony before the Justice and Peace commission.
“Albeiro is of Bello, the same as the business Bellanita. I met him in the farm “La 15”, because I would go there a lot with Vincente,” said ‘HH’ before the commission, adding that Albeiro’s 40 state-authorized bodyguards became instructors at a paramilitary training camp.
‘HH’ also said the has a rivalry with the infamous Envigado Office, the paramilitary-run crime service, which is why they ordered an assassin known as ‘Daniel’ to carry out the failed October 2006 assassination attempt against the businessman.
The drivers of Albeiro’s bus fleet began an armed band in the late 1990s to protect the buses from attacks by militias but later became one of the most feared groups in the neighborhood, responsible ‘cleaning’ the sector by killing drug users and homeless, according to an unconfirmed report by a former resident.