By Fernando Umaña, EL TIEMPO, June 14, 2023
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
This Wednesday, June 14, Ronald Rodríguez Rozo, one of the highest ranking officials in the National Protection Unit (UNP), was arrested for alleged connections with the “La Terrazza” gang and the “Envigado Office”.
As EL TIEMPO’s investigation staff has reported, Rodríguez, who was the Assistant Director of the UNP, has admitted that his official SUV had been used by the so-called “narco driver” Manuel Castañeda to move a shipment of cocaine.
Rodríguez told this newspaper that he had lent his SUV to Castañeda on several occasions, and that he was being attacked for his good faith.
This official’s arrest has called attention once more to the “Terrazza” and “Envigado Office” gangs, two much-feared criminal organizations which Colombians, and specifically Antioquians, have known about for several years.
But what are each of these criminal organizations that are still functioning at this time? We will tell you.
“From a debt collection office to a federation of mafias”
At the beginning of the current century, Insight Crime dug deeply into the origins of the Envigado Office. It established that it had “gone from being a debt collection office in the service of Pablo Escobar and turned into a federation of mafias that regulates almost all of the criminal activity in Medellín.”
The nonprofit think tank and news agency pointed out –twenty years ago—that the “Office today is a coalition of small to medium size criminal organizations that provides services to the transnational drug traffickers and other mafia élites and creates alliances with the gangs to control the territory and the criminal activities in Medellín.”
It added that, “as such, the Office is perhaps the most complex example of the current Colombian mafia: an intricate network of service providers and subcontractors involved in every type of criminal activity, from money laundering and the international trade in cocaine, to the sale of drugs at the local level and micro-extortion.”
La “Terrazza”, one of the oldest gangs in Medellín
In April of 2019, the authorities arrested alias “Chicho”, the principal boss of the “Terrazza” gang. He is responsible for crimes like homicides, displacements, thievery, extortion, drug trafficking, and recruitment of minors.
The “Terrazza” is one of the oldest and most-feared gangs in Medellín. Four years ago, the Secretary of Security in Medellín referred to it as one of the ten organized criminal groups (GDO) that are in Medellín and that make up 43% of all the criminal organizations in the country. The other nine are Picacho, Caicedo, La Unión, Trianón, Los Triana, Pachelly, Los Chatos, Robledo, and La Sierra.
In addition, it’s one of the seven GDO that make up the so-called “Office” and that control nearly 80% of the criminal activity in the capital of Antoquia.