by Andreana Leal
“Congratulations! Criminals are either brought to justice or end up buried,” Colombian President Santos tweeted, congratulating the U.S. military on killing a famous Colombian drug lord during a U.S. military raid after he had run away from law enforcement for so long.
Victor Ramon Navarro-Cerrano, also known “Megateo”, turned to the life of crime late 1990’s when his mother and sister was shot by paramilitaries.
“He projected a Robin Hood image, sharing some wealth with local people while putting numerous police, soldiers and local politicians on his payroll,” wrote Libardo Cardona and Frank Bajak on bigstory.ap.org.
Navarro was a former guerrilla fighter for a leftist rebel group called the Popular Liberation Army, or EPL. While it formally disbanded in 1990’s, Navarro continued to fight in the name of EPL. He eventually became a drug lord, controlling portions of the Cocaine supply route out of Colombia,
The 1,300-square-mile Catatumbo region that he controlled includes about one-tenth of Colombia’s coca crop and is a key corridor into Venezuela, a major transit country for U.S.- and Europe-bound cocaine.
Navarro went on to become the world’s top cocaine producer, running a vast money laundering network, holding responsibility for moving millions of dollars to Colombia.
He also gained a reputation for personally torturing and killing infiltrators.
An article on The Globe and Mail said, “If the government succeeds in making peace with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the rebels have promised to help it dismantle the cocaine trade and Catatumbo could end up being a key laboratory for that effort. Negotiators hope to produce a final deal to end that armed conflict within six months.
“One of authorities’ biggest fears in a post-conflict Colombia is that ideology-free gangsters like Navarro would fill the vacuum left by the leftist rebels, taking control of remote regions that the government has always had trouble penetrating and employ ex-combatants as enforcers.”