Drug Leader Shot in Colombia

Via the BBC:  Colombia Urabenos ‘drug gang leader’ shot by police

Officials in Colombia say the alleged leader of a powerful criminal gang has been killed in a police operation.

Prosecutors accuse Juan de Dios Usuga and his brother Dairo Antonio of jointly leading the Urabenos gang, which controls much of the drug-trafficking in the north of Colombia.

Police say Juan de Dios Usuga, 44, was shot dead as officers tried to arrest him at his ranch in Choco province.


Los Urabenos is one of the groups the Colombian government calls Bacrim, short for bandas criminales (criminal gangs).

While the era of the big cartels in Colombia is over, at least rhetorically, the drug business does continue at significant levels.

I think that on the one hand it is important to note that Colombia has made substantial progress in regards to violence and criminality,  but that on the other hand, the struggle continues.  I note this, if anything, because often the press (and sometimes representatives of the US government) speak as if the drug war has been basically won in Colombia and that, therefore, policies used there are directly exportable to Mexico and Afghanistan.  This is problematic because such pronouncements make it sound as if the drug war is working (and is “winnable”) when, in fact, this is not the case.  It is also problematic because the situations in Mexico and Afghanistan are substantially different than that in Colombia once one gets beyond superficial comparisons that include violence and drugs.

FILED UNDER: Latin America, US Politics, World Politics, , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. A voice from another precinct says:

    Well, I see your point, but if we don’t continue to promote the fiction that the drug war is working and winnable, what is the point of putting a guy carrying 3 roaches and a clip in jail for 25 years (in states with “enhanced sentencing”) or giving Rush Limbaugh a suspended sentence for possessing 200,000 oxcycodone tablets? We might as well just legalize drugs.

    We have to keep promoting that fiction. It’s an important part of keeping the fiction that laws make people good alive.