Crime & Justice

Colombian capital launches task force in response to spate of murders

Bogota, Sep 6 (EFE).- The mayor of the Colombian capital announced Tuesday the creation of a multi-agency task force to respond to more than a score of gangland killings in recent weeks.

The initiative will involve 34 police detectives, 20 intelligence officers as well as teams from the corporate-crime and organized-crime divisions of the Attorney General’s Office, Claudia Lopez told a press conference.

Their efforts will be in addition to that of the 1,200 professionals “working on the identification of criminal structures,” she said.

Bogota has been rocked by nearly two-dozen murders thought to be linked to a war among gangs for control of drug corners in this city of nearly 7.2 million people.

Venezuelan nationals account for at least seven of the 23 people whose dismembered bodies were found stuffed into garbage bags and a criminal organization based in the neighboring country is deeply implicated in the violence here, Lopez said.

She said officials are convinced that some of the mayhem in Bogota is being directed from a prison in Venezuela where two leaders of the Tren de Aragua outfit are being held.

Building on control of smuggling and other rackets in Aragua, a state on Venezuela’s border with Colombia, Tren de Aragua has gained a foothold in Bogota, the mayor said.

“I ask the ambassador of Colombia in Venezuela and the ambassador of Venezuela in Colombia to, if possible, effectively isolate these two criminals from coordinating any possible action,” she said.

Colombia and Venezuela are the process of rebuilding diplomatic relations after a rupture of more than three years.

On Aug. 19, police found abandoned on the expressway north of Bogota an armored SUV containing the bodies of three men and a woman who had been killed execution-style.

One of the dead was eventually identified as Juan Carlos Useche, an ex-cop with a criminal record for drug trafficking. EFE ocm/dr

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