Colombia: 17 Arrested in Alleged Cocaine-Smuggling Ring

Colombian police captured 17 suspected members of an international cocaine trafficking gang, authorities announced on Sunday. Law enforcement officials stated that the suspects are accused of aggravated drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit drug trafficking.

The operation, which was the result of a six month investigation, took place in the Colombian departments, or states, of Magdalena, Norte de Santander, and Atlántico y Guajira, reports Colombian media outlet Vanguardia.

Ten suspects were arrested in the city of Santa Marta; two were arrested in Maico, Guajira; one in Barranquilla; one in Soledad, Atlántico; two in Hacarí, Norte de Santander, and one more in Ocaña, Norte de Santander.

Alleged organization leader José Danilo Oviedo Chacón was arrested in Barranquilla, while Inspector of Police Guillermo Alfonso Mejía Orduz was among those arrested in Maicao.

Authorities seized more than half a ton of cocaine during the operation.

According to AFP, the 17 suspects are allegedly members of the drug-trafficking paramilitary organization Los Urabeños. The organization surged in power following the decline of rivals Los Rastrojos, however Los Urabeños have suffered several recent setbacks including a major cocaine seizure on a Caribbean island and the surrender of a top member who gave up several regional leaders to authorities.