BOGOTA, Colombia – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) partnered with the National Police of Colombia (CNP) Feb. 25 to arrest 24 Colombian nationals who were members of the transnational criminal organization known as the "Urabenos."
The special agents making the arrests were from the HSI Bogota Colombian National Police Directorate of Criminal Investigations Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit (DIJIN TCIU) and the Colombian Police Criminal Investigative Sectional from the Choco Department (SIJIN-DECHO) in Medellin, Antioquia.
Urabenos has been designated as "Bandas Criminales," which were developed to control and support narcotic smuggling out of Colombia after the dismantlement of the paramilitary forces in Colombia. The head of the Urabenos for the Choco division was arrested Feb. 22 in the town of Bocas de Pepe, Medio Baudó Municipality in the Department of Choco. Twelve more members were arrested Feb. 25 in Medellin and different cities of Choco. Those arrests included the head of the financial cell and the head of the military arm of the Urabenos in Choco.
"These arrests are the product of a strong working relationship between HSI and the Colombian National Police," said Luis Sierra, HSI’s attaché in Colombia. "While today’s arrests represent a significant step forward, there is still much work to be done."
An additional 11 arrest warrants were served to Urabenos in custody serving time for other crimes. The arrests included conspiracy charges for homicide, extortion, narcotics trafficking and terrorism in violation of Colombian laws. The investigation was led jointly by HSI Bogota, SIJIN-DECHO and HSI DIJIN TCIU.
Through ICE’s Office of International Affairs and the State Department, HSI has 67 attaché offices in 48 countries around the world. This presence includes an on-the-ground relationship-building effort of HSI special agents working closely with foreign law enforcement agencies, and through a robust network of specialized vetted units known as Transnational Criminal Investigative Units. Additionally, HSI brings personnel from host countries to the United States to train at the Department of Homeland Security Federal Law Enforcement Training Center at Glynco, Ga.