Spanish authorities on July 19 announced the arrest of wanted Colombian kingpin Hernán Alonso Villa AKA “El Ratón” (The Mouse), who was apprehended while driving on a highway outside the Mediterranean port of Alicante. Alonso Villa is said to have been a top European operative for the Oficina de Envigado, now Colombia’s most powerful criminal organization, and is held responsible for exporting massive amounts of cocaine to Spain, the Netherlands, and elsewhere on the continent. He is also accused of having led the Oficina’s paramilitary enforcement wing in Colombia. The Oficina has been linked to nearly 400 murders, according to authorities. Spain’s National Police said Alonso Villa has been transferred to Madrid pending extradition to Colombia.
The Oficina de Envigado is said to be a surviving remnant of the old Medellín Cartel, its ranks swelled over the past decade with former fighters from Colombia’s “disbanded” right-wing paramilitary network. Although it has suffered reversals in recent years, it has managed to re-consolidate a machine covering much of the Medellín Cartel’s old turf in the Colombian department of Antioquia and the northern Caribbean coast.