Colombia: Governor Arrested For Links to Murders
Colombian officials arrested Juan Francisco Gomez Cerchar, governor of the northern La Guajira department on Saturday, according to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo. The governor and former mayor of the town of Barranacas is suspected of involvement in three murders and connections to right-wing paramilitary groups as well as organized crime figures.
Gomez is a suspect in the murders of three politicians killed by the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitary group. The victims included Yandra Brito Carillo, Gomez's handpicked replacement as mayor of Barranacas. Brito had accused Gomez of murdering her husband in 2008.
Gomez, also known as "Kiko," was arrested following a confrontation between officials from the Prosecutor General's office and the governor's bodyguards, InSight Crime reports. Gomez was removed from the scene in an ambulance and admitted to a clinic the following day with unspecified health concerns.
Colombian newspaper El Espectador reports that Gomez has numerous connections to the AUC. Spanish-language media outlet Noticias Uno alleged links between Gomez and crime boss Marcos Figueroa. According to InSight Crime, La Guajira is an entry point for smuggled gasoline and weapons from Venezuela and a “departure point” for planes and fast boats shipping drugs to the Caribbean.