BOGOTA – Colombian police have detained Juan Carlos Mesa, alias “Tom,” one of the most wanted drug lords in the country and for whose capture the United States is offering a $2 million reward, officials announced Saturday.
The defense minister on his Twitter account described Tom’s capture as “one of the most powerful blows against drug trafficking this year,” and said it was carried out in the El Peñol municipality, Antioquia province, of which the capital is Medellin.
In a brief message, the ministry also noted that the captive was “chief” of the Envigado Office, one of the main drug-trafficking gangs in Colombia and which operates in Medellin and the surrounding area.
According to official information, Tom has been engaged in criminal activities since 1988, and since 2014 has been on the Clinton List of individuals or companies linked to drug trafficking.
Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez had specifically asked police last January to work on catching Tom so that “people can live in peace” in his city and in all of Antioquia.
In April, President Juan Manuel Santos promised that the police would capture him and recalled that a $2 million reward was being offered to anyone providing information leading to his arrest.
That amount is much more than the 3 billion pesos (some $1 million) offered by Dairo Antonio Usuga, alias “Otoniel,” kingpin of the Gulf Clan, Colombia’s largest criminal organization.
According to the daily El Tiempo, when Tom was arrested he was celebrating his birthday and among those accompanying him were Jhon Jairo Velasquez Vasquez, alias “Popeye,” former boss of Pablo Escobar’s paid killers who spent more than 23 years in prison and has said in several interviews that he is reinstated in society.