Colombian Defense Minister Luís Carlos Villegas announced a pair of key offensives against the notorious Clan del Golfo drug trafficking organization on Tuesday morning.
In an effort that was dubbed ‘Operation Agamemnon II,’ Villegas said that Special Forces Police took a helicopter into Santo Domingo in the Chocó province to attempt to capture Félix Ibargüen Valencia, alias ‘Cobra 5.’ Valencia was killed by police after they said a gunfight began between the two sides.
According to a press release from the Defense Ministry, Valencia was in charge of 250 men in Clan del Golfo and led confrontations against rivals groups. A report from Colombia’s El Tiempo said Valencia was known for heading the operations that transported cocaine across the Pacific Ocean as head of the Darién gang of the Clan del Golfo.
“He had a 20-year career in crime, in different organizations working in the margins of the law, from the ‘Elmer Cárdenas‘ sect of the United Self-Defenses Forces (AUC) to being the head of the Darién gang for the Clan del Golfo,” Villegas said at a Tuesday morning press conference in Bogotá.
Police said they arrested another “integral member” of the Clan del Golfo’s Darién gang, as well as a host of weapons. Authorities also discovered a laboratory on site in Santo Domingo that they are still inspecting, Villegas said.
In the second part of the offensive, police forces confiscated more than two tons of cocaine from the group.
“According to intelligence information, this cocaine belongs to Clan del Golfo,” Villegas said at Tuesday’s press conference. “The information we have so far tells us that the plan was to put the cocaine in packages and hide them underground in the forest with the ultimate aim of sending those packages abroad.”
Two more men believed to be connected with the organization were arrested as part of the drug bust.
The defense minister added that more than 627 billion pesos, or about $219 million USD, were seized through assets like cash and properties from the group with the series of organized attacks on the Clan del Golfo. Villegas said that some of that money will go back to armed conflict victims as part of reparations.
“At the end of the day, this operation is justified through the benefits given to the victims of Colombia’s conflict, who will receive part of these liquidated assets,” he said.
The group that the Colombian government refers to as the ‘Clan del Golfo‘ is also known by aliases of ‘Los Urabeños‘ and ‘Clan Úsuga.‘ It consists of former paramilitary leaders and they have strategic positions in key areas throughout the country for facilitating drugs internationally.
Operation Agamemnon was initially launched in 2015 to break up the Clan del Golfo and ultimately take down the organization’s top boss Dario Antonio, known widely as ‘Otoniel,’ who remains at large.