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Peru’s Most-Wanted Fugitive Drug Lord Nabbed in Colombia

Bill Weinberg

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On Sunday, Peru's most wanted fugitive drug lord—Gerson Adair Gálvez Calle, AKA "El Caracol" ("the Snail")—was arrested by Colombian National Police at a shopping center in Medellín and promptly deported.

The director of the National Police, Gen. Jorge Hernando Nieto, called the apprehension "a powerful shot against transnational crime." Peruvian authorities had offered a reward of $150,000 for information leading to the arrest of El Caracol, who is considered Peru's biggest exporter of cocaine.

It remains to be seen if the bust will mean the end of El Caracol's network, headquartered in Callao, Peru's principal port. His local crime machine there, dubbed "Barrio King," is believed responsible for a string of murders in the city over the past years. In December, five suspected sicarios (hit men) for the gang were detained under "preventative detention," while investigations are pending against them.

Embarrassingly, El Caracol himself was released from Callao's Sarita Colonia Prison in 2014, after serving 11 years of a 15-year sentence on a murder charge. He was released after expressing remorse for his crime, but authorities said he quickly went into hiding upon his release and assumed control of the Barrio King gang. It is now believed that he may have been operating the network from Colombia.

Authorities say he is now headed for the maximum-security Challapalca prison, over 15,000 feet above sea level and more than 800 miles from Lima and Callao, in Peru’s southern region of Tacna.

(Photo Courtesy of Peru21.pe)

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