BOGOTA — The leader of a major drug trafficking organization known as the “Oficina de Envigado” was arrested Wednesday in the northeastern city of Medellin, Colombian authorities said.
Calling the arrest of Erikson Vargas a “death blow” to the crime group, President Juan Manuel Santos said at a news conference that he would be extradited to the United States.
Police said he was taken into custody at a farm near Medellin in an operation in which another member of Vargas’ group was killed and several others were also arrested.
He was wanted on charges of conspiracy to murder, drug trafficking, and extortion.
Vargas assumed leadership of the Envigado organization after the November 2011 arrest of its previous leader, Maximiliano Bonilla, in Venezuela. Bonilla, known as Valenciano, was extradited to the United States in December 2011.
Based in the northeastern region of Antioquia, the Envigado crime group is considered one of the most potent of Colombia’s drug trafficking organizations.
The group was formed in the 1980s by Pablo Escobar, the notorious leader of the Medellin cartel.
After his death, control of the group passed to the Self-Defense Units of Colombia, a rightwing paramilitary group that was later disbanded as part of a peace process.