Exposing the Criminal Underworld: The Capture of Gang Leader ‘Satan’

2023-11-14 10:49:25

“No matter how versed he is in crime, Satan will be captured,” said Major Mauricio Figueroa, deputy commander of Gaula, last September 25 in an interview with El Espectador. A month and a half later he complied. The Police captured José Manuel Vera Sulbarán, leader of a dangerous gang that goes by his own alias, in Loja, Ecuador.

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Hours after the arrest, in front of a judge of guarantees, the criminal admitted without shame each of the charges against him, including homicide and extortion. Along the way, he requested a private meeting with the Prosecutor’s Office to seek an agreement.

Without knowing the exact status of these negotiations, the crimes of this criminal gang seem to be far from abating. Just a week after the capture, extortionist pamphlets handwritten by Satan members continued to intimidate merchants. The crudest of them reached the establishments on 138th Street, in the town of Suba. There the owners of a construction material warehouse received two handwritten sheets with the following message: “The dead in Bogotá will not stop until the boss is released.”

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These notifications are a link in the extortion chain with which criminal structures intimidate Bogota residents. After the threats, through pamphlets, WhatsApp messages or phone calls come the actual means. Around 4 pm on Saturday, two individuals on a motorcycle arrived at the threatened establishment and opened fire on the employees. Two people were injured after the attack and a wave of panic spread to other merchants in the area.

Upon escaping, the gunman who attacked the establishment left a message on the floor that read the following: “This is going to happen to anyone who receives the statement and does not copy the curse.” Today, after the festive long weekend, the owners of the surrounding businesses pale before the dilemma of opening the windows of their businesses or preventing something similar from happening to them.

El Espectador was able to contact one of the people who work in the area. Anonymously, he confirms that for several weeks “pamphlets have been circulating that are accompanied by bullets and grenades; Sometimes they break the windows and put the ballots inside and charge “vaccines” that range from $400,000 to $5 million,” he said.

“Satan” and his influence from prison

The deputy commander of the Bogotá Police, Herbert Benavides, confirmed to the media who went to the scene of the last attack that the attack would be “related to the capture of Satan, seeking a pressure mechanism.” The handwritten pamphlet, sent days before the attack (which differentiates the Satan from other extortion gangs such as the Tren del Aragua), may be the first notice with which the criminal structure communicated that they are still on the streets, despite the capture of their main leader. These types of actions, says the security consultant, Giovani Moreno, “are typical in an organization that does not want to show weakness in the face of the fall of the leader.”

When asked if he saw it possible that the recently captured man had the capacity to continue issuing orders from prison, Moreno opted for prudence. “A big fish of this caliber must be incommunicado and under 24-hour surveillance.” However, in such large criminal organizations “the ringleaders are easily replaced. “Satan, more than an individual, is a generic idea that anyone can embody, which is why it is so difficult to dismantle,” he stated.

Consequently, the true influence that Juan Manuel Vera can exert from prison lies in the extent to which “he has defined a line of succession and the articulation of the gang.” But this does not mean that the expert rules out that, later on, as happens with other criminal leaders, “alias Satan will find a way to continue influencing the organization from prison.”

Other critical points, where it is believed that this extortion structure has influence, are Venice (Tunjuelito), Fontibón Centro, Kennedy and San Victorino. The Police Gaula warned that, in the event of any extortion attempt, the report must be made through line 165 and under no circumstances pay the extortion fee.

It remains to be seen, to the extent that the authorities manage to get ahead of the criminals, to what extent this wave of violence expands in response to the capture of the confessed ringleader. For now, after the 1,071 cases of extortion that occurred this year, according to the Ministry of Security, the economic activity of Bogotá remains fearful and waiting for greater actions on the eve of the holiday season, the most important in commercial matters.

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For more news from the capital and Cundinamarca, visit the Bogotá section of El Espectador.

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