miércoles, 27 de marzo de 2013

Colombian police chief vows state will "end" crime gangs

Colombia's National Police chief General José Roberto León Riaño recently told the Medellín newspaper El Mundo that extraordinary police operations carried out in the Medellín area on 18-22 March had cut crime by 60 per cent and netted 419 crime suspects within 100 hours. Medellín had in recent weeks seen a surge in violent crime - which Riaño attributed to turf battles between street gangs - and Riaño and several police generals moved to Medellín to oversee the operations. Riaño said in an undated interview that in their operations police confiscated more than 50,000 doses of various drugs, 32 firearms and more than 1,800 knives and sharp instruments, and also recovered 36 stolen cars, El Mundo reported on 26 March. He observed that a series of police actions in Medellín had mainly harmed a gang called La Oficina, and attributed a recent surge in criminal violence in Medellín to the dispersion of crime apparently following La Oficina's recent decline. "It is very weakened. Today we are becoming the victims of success. Before there was a chief who gave orders. Now there is an atomization of groups where each chieftain gives orders in his territory, but as we have caught one chief after another, these organizations have remained headless, hence the confrontation between the "combos" (street gangs) and increase in violence in the city." The Police chief declared the state would "put an end" in 2013 to the country's main criminal gangs, dubbed Bacrim (Bandas criminales), whose numbers he said had dropped from 33 in 2006 to "six today," which he listed alongside their zones. Murder figures for Medellín and its environs on 23-25 March were 50 per cent lower than for the same days in 2012, El Mundo reported on 27 March, citing comments by the police chief. General José Ángel Mendoza Guzmán, head of the Metropolitan Police of the Valle de Aburrá that includes Medellín said homicides in the city district had dropped from 18 to nine, and attributed this to the recent police operations. He reported that police detained five more criminal suspects on 25-26 March: a demobilized paramilitary arrested for the fourth time, and four members of a street gang from Commune 13, one of the neighbourhoods that has suffered a surge in violence. Over 1,100 policemen engaged in recent operations were to remain in Medellín until December he said, when they were to be replaced by permanent recruits.