BOGOTA – Colombian police captured two Ecuadorians and two Colombians wanted for extradition to the United States on drug trafficking charges, including the head of the band, Washington Prado Alava, alias “Gerald,” authorities said Tuesday.
Prado, an Ecuadorian, and his three associates are charged with smuggling 250 tons of cocaine to several countries in Central and North America, according to Colombian police chief Gen. Jorge Hernando Nieto.
Prado was also being sought in Ecuador for murdering a number of prosecutors, judges and police officers, according to the report.
“This was an ... action constituting a high-impact blow to drug trafficking on the international level,” said Nieto at a Bogota press conference on the operation, in which the Colombian Attorney General’s Office and the US Drug Enforcement Administration also took part.
Captured along with Prado in Operation Sol Naciente were fellow Ecuadorian Leonardo Adrian Vera, and Colombians Robinson Alberto Castro and Diego Fernando Arizala.
Police said that Prado had lived in Colombia for several years while a member of the Los Rastrojos crime group operating in southwestern Valle del Cauca province.
After breaking with that group, Prado mounted his own drug smuggling operation in southern Colombia in which he controlled “all the links in the cocaine production chain,” along with several drug trafficking routes “through Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Mexico and the United States,” authorities said.
So as to “not depend on other organizations,” Prado acquired his own fleet of Ecuadorian-flagged boats that ultimately transported “more than 250 tons of cocaine,” police said.
During their operations against the band, Colombian authorities seized 150 tons of drugs and captured about 100 members of the organization.
“Without any doubt, this criminal headed the most sophisticated and technically adept mafia organization in the Colombian Pacific region,” Nieto added.