Colombia is closing in on the leaders of its biggest gang, but they're retaliating by copying Pablo Escobar

FARC rebels Colombia peace plan demobilization

Colombia’s peace process with the left-wing rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is stumbling forward.

FARC rebels recently announced they had turned in 30% of their weapons, but the deadline for those turnovers, originally the end of May, has been extended by 20 days because of construction delays and other issues hindering the demobilization process.

As the FARC leaves the battlefield, a number of problems have cropped up.

Production of coca, the main ingredient in cocaine, is up considerably for a variety of reasons. Violence in certain parts of the country has continued or increased as well, as criminal groups and dissident rebel factions jockey for control of territory vacated by the FARC.

The Colombian government has tried to crack down on the groups driving the killing, but they’ve put police and the military under fire in a style reminiscent of Pablo Escobar, adding to the body count.

Chief among those groups is Los Urabeños, also known as the Gulf clan, the most powerful of Colombia’s third-generation criminal groups and likely the only one with a truly national reach.

Colombia has dispatched 1,000 officers to scour northwest Colombia, often in Black Hawk helicopters. The government says it’s closing in on the group’s 45-year-old leader, Dario Antonio Usuga, aka Otoniel, who reportedly has to change locations every three hours. (Otoniel, however, has eluded capture for years.)

Colombia Antioquia Gulf clan Los Urabenos drug trafficking gang

“We have him within striking distance,” Jose Angel Mendoza, head of the anti-narcotics police division, told AFP earlier this month. “He has had to run for it at the last second, more than once.”

Colombian officials have dropped leaflets offering a reward for information about Otoniel from helicopters over northwestern Antioquia, the gang’s home turf whose capital, Medellin, was once the redoubt of Pablo Escobar’s eponymous cartel.

The US State Department has offered a $5 million reward based on a 2009 indictment in a New York court, calling Los Urabeños “a heavily armed, extremely violent criminal organization comprised of former members of terrorist organizations.” Colombian authorities have offered a reward of nearly $7,000 for information on the killings.

Police also say they’ve killed 52 of the gang’s leaders this year and arrested 1,300 of its members. The effort has reportedly reduced the gang to 1,500 members — half its size in 2010.

Los Urabenos Colombia drug gang cartels Medellin

But Los Urabeños is fighting back.

Taking a page from Escobar’s playbook, the gang — responsible for 70% of the cocaine production in Colombia, which produced 646 metric tons of the drug in 2015 — is targeting the police, cutting down officers in the streets in a campaign reminiscent of Escobar’s vicious fight against the state in the early 1990s.

Targeted killings of police date back to March, and have been attributed in part to the National Liberation Army, another left-wing rebel group present in the country.

Los Urabeños appears to be responsible for many of the more recent police killings. During May, Los Urabeños gave out leaflets calling for the killing of police, and police-intelligence officials believe the group is offering nearly $700 for each death. Police have said the killings are in retaliation for law-enforcement action against the group.

Eleven police were killed throughout May, most of them on patrol. The killings have taken place around the country but mainly in the north around Antioquia and along the Panamanian border.

The killing spree has been compared to the “pistol plan,” a campaign devised by Escobar to put pressure on the government in the early 1990s. Even the governor of Antioquia, Luis Perez, has drawn a comparison between the current violence and that of Escobar’s time.

Medellin Pablo Escobar FARC Colombia

Escobar leveraged the networks of corruption he had established in Medellin to suss out the identities of officers sent to the city to dismantle his organization, killing dozens of them on the street or in front of their families. By the end of 1992, Escobar upped the ante by offering a $2,000 bounty for Medellin cops.

Not content with shootings, Escobar dispatched car bombs; a massive one exploded outside a stadium in the city on December 2, killing 10 police and three civilians. At the end of the month, authorities found another massive car bomb outside the national police’s provincial headquarters.

By the time Escobar himself was gunned down in December 1993, hundreds of Colombian police had been slain.

“In Colombia, every time a criminal group turns to killing police, they do it as a desperate measure,” Vice President Oscar Naranjo, who battled the nation’s drug cartels as national police chief, told the Associated Press in May.

Pablo Escobar soccer charity

State pressure on Los Urabeños has intensified as well. In late May, the national police reported arresting 35 members of the gang who were involved in police killings.

Around the same time, Colombian authorities reported capturing a gang leader known as “El Boyaco,” who is suspected of financing the campaign against police.

While Escobar was not a rebel or an insurgent, his campaign did have the political objective of getting the government to relent in its efforts to capture or kill his cartel’s members and to secure an agreement not to extradite them to the US. The FARC, both insurgents and traffickers, had designs on remaking Colombia’s political system.

Colombia cocaine shipment seizure

Los Urabeños don’t appear to have aspirations for their deadly campaign beyond getting the police off their backs.

“Unlike what we have seen in the past, these groups don’t have defined political objectives,” Jorge Restrepo, director of the Conflict Analysis Resource Center in Bogota, told the AP.

Despite police success in capturing or killing its leaders, however, the gang appears to be extending its reach in Colombia’s prime trafficking territory, and continued seizures of large quantities of cocaine — like 6 metric tons of it seized in April in what was then Colombia’s third-largest bust ever — indicate the gang still has the ability to move vast amounts of the drugs.

Los Urabeños’ deadly campaign has fallen far short of the one mounted by Escobar, but for the Colombians affected by it, more drug-related bloodshed underscores the emptiness of the peace promised by the FARC’s demobilization.

“Look how everything is,” Jennifer Macias, who police-officer husband was gunned down in May, weeks after his 35th birthday, told the AP. “The peace is useless.”

SEE ALSO: Colombia says it’s convincing drug farmers to grow other crops — but drug traffickers say otherwise

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Criminal Minds DVD news: Announcement for The 12th Season … –

Criminal Minds CBS DVD and Paramount Home Entertainment Announces ‘The 12th Season

Coming to stores this September as a 6-DVD set!

Posted by David Lambert

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    New Cases. New Faces. The twelfth season of Criminal Minds shakes the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) to its very core. Unforeseen threats lead to sudden changes to the team, beginning with the addition of Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriguez), whose fugitive tracking skills are put to the test on day one.

    Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster) returns from London to take over as the new Unit Chief, joined by Stephen Walker (Damon Gupton), a seasoned profiler in his own right. Back on the case are agents David Rossi (Joe Mantegna), Jennifer “J.J.” Jareau (A.J. Cook), Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), technical analyst Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness), and Dr. Tara Lewis (Aisha Tyler).

    As the BAU grows in number, their enemies only grow stronger. This new team must learn to work together to stop the killers, psychopaths, masterminds, hackers, abductors and other dangerous perpetrators that await them in these 22 mind-blowing episodes.

    All-star cast: Joe Mantegna (The Starter Wife), Paget Brewster (Band of Robbers), Matthew Gray Gubler (Band of Robbers), A.J. Cook (Final Destination 2), Kirsten Vangsness (Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders), Damon Gupton (Final Destination 2), Aisha Tyler (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), Adam Rodriguez (CSI: Miami), Returning guest star Shemar Moore.

    Season 12 features special guest appearances by: Jane Lynch (Glee), Alana de la Garza (Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Law & Order), Daniel Henney (Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Hawaii Five-O), Sherilyn Fenn (Ray Donovan), Pooch Hall (Ray Donovan), Tatum O’Neal (Rescue Me), and David Otunga (WWE).

CBS/Paramount has announced that September 5th will see the DVD release of Criminal Minds – The 12th Season. This 6-disc set priced at $44.99 SRP will include lots of extras: Audio Commentary (on select episodes), a “Director’s Chair” Featurette, Deleted Scenes, a Gag Reel, and more! Here’s a look at the package art:Criminal Minds - The 12th Season
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Kasowitz Reportedly Filing Complaint Against Comey Because Understanding Criminal Law Is Hard – Above the Law

Kasowitz1Lawyer to the “Predisent” Marc Kasowitz is reportedly considering doubling down on his suggestion that former FBI Director James Comey somehow broke the law when he leaked the memos recounting his meetings with Trump. That’s certainly going to win the overly confident yet spelling challenged attorney points with the Fox News set — who continue to push the “Comey is a leaker” trope without any apparent explanation of why that matters — but it’s unlikely to get him very far “legally” which, one would have assumed, was the point of Trump’s hiring a “lawyer.”

Obviously Comey leaked these memos when he handed them over to Professor Daniel Richman. He admits that and he’s a smart enough guy not to admit to a crime. As a technical matter, one could argue that memos written by the FBI Director detailing meetings he had in his official capacity are property of the FBI and not his personal documents to distribute as he pleases. That’s probably true in all fairness. But, as the old proverb says, “who gives a flying f**k?”

Because breaching government rules about the disposition of official — but non-classified — documents isn’t much more than a fireable offense and, spoiler alert, Comey was already fired. As Professor Steve Vladeck pointed out on Twitter yesterday, there’s just no criminal act here:

But that’s apparently not going to stop Kasowitz from filing a complaint with the Justice Department Inspector General and the Senate judiciary committee according to CNN. It’s a foolish move from a legal standpoint, but the moment Kasowitz called a press conference, we should have realized this isn’t so much a legal defense as an expensive mission to feed the misdirection machine at all costs.

No word yet if Kasowitz plans to employ spell check on these complaints.

Trump’s lawyer to file complaint against Comey over memos [CNN]

Earlier: Marc Kasowitz Takes Break From Partying At Trump Hotel To Talk To The Press

HeadshotJoe Patrice is an editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news.

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