BOGOTA (Reuters) – One of Colombia’s top five criminal groups, Los Caparros, has been dismantled with the death of its leader, Defense Minister Diego Molano said on Tuesday.
Robinson Gil Tapias, known as “Flechas,” was killed in an operation by Colombia’s military and police last Thursday in the northern rural municipality of Caceres, Antioquia province. Los Caparros was responsible for killings and forced displacements, child recruitment and kidnappings in northeastern Colombia, according to security sources.
With the death of Gil Tapias and the seizing of the group’s arsenal, other members of Los Caparros fled, while others are expected to surrender, according to authorities.
“Today we can tell Colombia that Los Caparros have met their end,” Molano said.
Before his death Gil Tapias was included on the government’s most-wanted list, with a reward of $145,000 offered for information to his whereabouts.
Los Caparros featured alongside Clan del Golfo and Los Pelusos, as well as guerrilla group the National Liberation Army (ELN) and former FARC combatants who reject a 2016 peace deal, as one of the five largest criminal groups designated military targets by the government of President Ivan Duque.
Los Caparros’ eight most-important leaders have all been killed or captured in recent months, according to high-ranking officials.
The group, which emerged in 2017 following a split with Clan del Golfo, had around 100 combatants and was present in Colombia’s provinces of Antioquia and Cordoba.
Drug trafficking has long fueled Colombia’s internal armed conflict, which has left more than 260,000 dead and millions displaced.
(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin; editing by Grant McCool)