Another Colombian Drug Lord Found (Dead) in Venezuela
One of Colombia’s main drug lords, who had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head, has been found dead in Venezuela, where he had been living for some time.
Wilber Varela, AKA “Soap,” was a leader of the massively violent and powerful Northern Valley cartel, a former hitman, who is now suspected of being killed by his own men.
Such is the life in one of the most violent of the cartels. Previous leaders (Ivan Urdinola, Diego Montoya etc.) earned their infamy by chopping up their victims with chainsaws and dumping the bodies in the Cauca River, earning the body of water the title of “River of Death.” This was terrorism in the name of greed rather than religion.
But what is more interesting is that Varela seems to have been living in the Venezuelan city of Merida. This is significant because Chávez government does not cooperate with international drug interdiction efforts and had made not efforts to apprehend him.
U.S. and Colombian officials have been increasingly concerned as Venezuela has developed into one of the major transshipment points for cocaine heading not only for the United States, but to Europe as well.
In the past week, according to Colombian and wire service reports, Colombia officials have confiscated 2.5 tons of cocaine and 36 kilograms of heroin in transit along the Colombian coast, nearing Venezuelan waters.
The dope belonged to a set of twin paramilitary leaders, known as The Twins (Los Mellizos).
U.S counternarcotics officials say that Venezuela has increasingly become a black hole in tracking drug flights and go-fast boats. Venezuelan branches of several European banks are suspected of moving much of the money laundering operations to Spain and other European centers, in part because of an unexpected side effect of globalization.
That is, the Europeans have a readily-available 500 Euro note, worth about $750 US. This is much larger than the US $100 bill, which means that large amounts of money in the Euro note is far less bulky to transport than the US currency is.
But back to Varela, and his protection in Venezuela. It is a dangerous sign when one nation turns a blind eye to criminal elements moving in. Varela’s whereabouts were not unknown to Colombian authorities, who asked the Venezuelans to take action. None was taken.
Leaders of the FARC have often been hosted in Venezuela, sought refuge there and been active there. Drug traffickers, with no pretense of a political agenda are also finding refuge. A bad omen for the future of the Bolivarian Revolution.