The opposition to the international drug trade may have secured its biggest victory of the year, so far. On Saturday, Colombian authorities arrested Peruvian drug lord Gerson Aldair Gálvez Calle, a.k.a. Caracol (Spanish for “Snail”). Caracol is described by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as “Latin America’s new El Chapo.”
Caracol is the leader of the dangerous criminal outfit known as “Barrio King,” which is accused of committing 101 violent murders in a year and scores of aggravated thefts throughout Lima and Callao. According to the authorities in Peru (the world’s top cocaine exporter), Caracol is allegedly responsible for orchestrating shipments of cocaine through the Port of Callao, according to the BBC. An international arrest warrant was issued for him in December 2015.
In 2003, at the age of 21, Caracol was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempted murder and illegal possession of weapons. He found found himself free in October 2014. In April 2015, Caracol was the main suspect in the attempted murder of Gerald Oropeza, who is known as the “Tony Montana of Peru.” According to El Colombiano, the luxury van Oropeza was travelling was shot 24 times and endured the impact of two grenades. The attack made the authorities aware of Oropeza, who managed to escape, but was captured in Ecuador last year.
It is believed that Caracol entered Colombia by land, through Ecuador. Two weeks ago, Peruvian police warned that he may attempt to pass through the country and offered a 500,000 soles ($15,000 USD) reward for information leading to his capture. Colombian police gathered intelligence and discovered that Caracol had rented a luxury apartment in the El Poblado section of Medellin. An Ecuadorian, who accompanied Caracol for several months, helped him gain entry into Colombia ran errands for him. He was allegedly in Medellin for business and pleasure. Caracol had plans to meet with members of the defunct Oficina de Envigado (Envigado Office) Cartel to discuss the expansion of their criminal enterprise in Colombia and to see his Venezuelan girlfriend who had been in the area for a few months.
General Jorge Hernando Nieto Rojas, director of the Colombian National Police took the lead of the investigation. He did so after returning from a international conference on drug control in Peru, where he learned more info on Caracol. Caracol’s daily routine was pinned down, and he was busted as he walked through a shopping mall. He was then moved to Bogota, then deported back to Lima on Sunday. General Vicente Romero, director of the Peruvian National Police traveled to Bogota to monitor Caracol’s transportation back.
“It is a well-aimed blow against transnational crime. No nation in the hemisphere will be a refuge [for] drug traffickers,” said General Nieto.