Operation New Horizon brings down Los Reincidentes, a Colombian drug ring tied to Sinaloa Cartel

Undercover sting reveals Wayuu-used trails and waterways, crippling the Sinaloa-affiliated network's 8-ton monthly drug shipments.

Recently, Colombian and US authorities announced the results of Operation New Horizon, which involved dismantling a criminal organization linked to the Sinaloa Cartel that operated in La Guajira, in the far north of Colombia.

According to the Colombian National Police, the organization, reportedly identified as “Los Reincidentes,” had been trafficking more than 90 tons of cocaine since 2021.

General William René Salamanca Ramírez, Director General of the National Police, said the organization was involved “in more than 30 shipments of narcotics in the last two and a half years to Central America and the United States valued at $1.8 billion“.

The operation, in turn, led to the arrest of Edicto Segundo Castañeda Hernández, also known as “El Condor,” who was reportedly the ringleader of the organization.

He was arrested after attending a Vallenata music party at a Uribia, La Guajira ranch. The event, which he attended with his wife and several of his men, reportedly lasted several days. Undercover police agents watched Hernandez throughout this time and arrested him as he left the party.

To avoid arousing suspicion, “El Condor” always gave instructions in the Wayuunaiki dialect. Perhaps he did not contemplate that there were policemen in the intelligence division who spoke the same language, so after that revelation, a policeman of Wayuu descent was appointed to translate the orders given by “El Condor” as the leader of a powerful criminal organization with tentacles with the Sinaloa Cartel.

Edicto Segundo Castañeda Hernández, alias Cóndor. Foto: laguajirahoy.com
Edicto Segundo Castañeda Hernández, alias Condor. Photo: laguajirahoy.com

The organization used communities inhabited by the Wayuus to collect narcotics, which were moved from Catatumbo to the southeast along the border with Venezuela and from there to Alta Guajira “using trails from Colombia and Venezuela and the waters of the Gulf of Coquivacoa.”

They had semi-submersibles and boats, as well as engines, spare parts, and gasoline acquired in Riohacha and other capitals, in which they transported the drugs to the high seas, where they transshipped the cargo to larger vessels with destinations that included Mexico and the United States.

The organization shipped up to 8 tons of drugs per month via Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the United States. Seized were 10 firearms, 38 cell phones, and some $38,500 in cash.

“El Condor” is 46 years old and has some 15 years of experience in drug trafficking. The operation resulted in the arrest of 17 other persons identified as Dago Enrique Urariyu Borrego, Luis Ángel Tapias Salcedo, Heiver Javier Herrera Romero, Jairo David De Luque Ramírez, John Jaider Urariyu, José Federico Machacón, Richard Alexánder Ramos Gutiérrez, David Domingo Ayala Henríquez, Luis Alberto Forero Medina and Marcos Marco López Gámez; who sold drugs around schools and educational establishments.

A Vallenata music singer, Enaldo Barrera Hernández, better known as ‘Diomedito‘, was also arrested. According to the more than year-long investigation, Barrera Hernández was in the “finance” area of the cartel along with three other individuals named Orlando Piñeros, César Díaz.

According to the authorities investigations, this gang had been operating for at least 15 years and also held clandestine meetings to plan and execute their criminal activities.