Neo-paramilitary group “Los Urabeños” shut down businesses and public transport in the northwestern Uraba region of Colombia Wednesday following the killing of their leader “Giovanni” by armed forces on Sunday.
All bus companies connecting the banana growing region to the city of Medellin, and consequently the rest of the country, have suspended their services out of fear for retaliation from what is considered one of Colombia’s most powerful drug trafficking organizations.
According to Caracol Radio, several buses who did leave the port town of Turbo were stopped and passengers were ordered to return to the town.
The order was given by the neo-paramilitary “Autodefensas Gaitanistas,” the original name of the Urabeños and formed by jailed paramilitary boss “Don Mario after his demobilization with paramilitary organization AUC.
Local businesses in the area between Turbo and the Panama border were also ordered to close their doors and to keep them closed at last on Thursday when “Giovanni” is being buried in the coastal village of Necocli.
According to newspaper El Colombiano, authorities have reinforced security in the region, but this was not confirmed by locals.
“Giovanni,” whose real name is Juan de Dios Usuga, took over the Urabeños together with his brother Dario Antonio, alias “Otoniel” after the 2009 arrest of Don Mario. The group originates from the Uraba region, but has expanded its area of control to other parts along the Caribbean coast and reportedly inside Medellin.
According to organized crime website InSight Crime, the Urabeños’ expansion is likely to continue despite the death of their military leader.