Clan del Golfo Ringleader Captured by Colombian Authorities

Trent Barr
Trent Barr
Trent has years of experience and training in open source intelligence gathering and journalism. He specializes in Latin American, German, and Vatican affairs, with a broader interest in European politics. Trent serves as the Latin America Desk Chief for Atlas News.

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Colombia’s Ministry of Defense announced the capture of a ring leader of one of Colombia’s strongest narco-trafficking organizations known as Clan del Golfo, also known as the Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC).

A Veteran of the AGC

The suspect was identified as Jorge Mario Valle and operated under the aliases “Pirata” and “Mocho.” Valle was captured following an operation conducted by the Colombian Armed Forces in the Bocas del Manso sector located in Colombia’s north-western department of Córdoba. During the operation, Valle was seriously wounded and fled the scene alongside comrades to a nearby clinic in Montería to receive medical treatment for his wounds. The clinic would later be raided by authorities, resulting in his capture.

Valle has been among Colombia’s most wanted criminals following a prior operation by authorities in 2023 where Colombian soldiers posed as members of the armed group, learning of plans by the AGC to attempt to force the withdrawal of military units to solidify the AGC’s control over narcotics routes, illegal mining operations, and extortion operations across the department.

Colombian soldiers engaged with Valle’s structure of the AGC. (Photo – X/mindefensa)

The group operating under Valle conducted operations across the department, in municipalities including Valencia, Sahagún, Chinú, San Andrés de Sotavento, Chimá, Momil, Cotorra, and the department’s capital of Montería. Valle himself is believed to be responsible for extortion, planned killings, and the forced recruitment of minors, a key form of boosting the number of fighters in armed groups across Colombia.

Valle is also responsible for overseeing the smuggling of cocaine and other narcotics out of Colombia through the Caribbean Sea into eastern Mexico and the southern United States, key trafficking routes for the AGC alongside other armed groups active within Colombia’s narcotics trade. Shipments into Mexico are often sold to Mexican cartels and transported through the Mexico-US border where they are then either sold to distributors or turned into crack cocaine to maximize the narcotic’s profitability.

The ringleader is believed to have first joined the AGC in 2016 and has been connected to a string of attacks and robberies of gas stations and convenience stores across the department and had participated in a mass burning of vehicles in what military intelligence believes to have been in an effort to showcase the group’s hold over the department. By 2019, Valle was reportedly promoted as second in command to the AGC’s structure within Córdoba, the Rubén Darío Ávila structure, and charged with the administration of the smuggling of narcotics for the first time.

Members of Clan del Golfo (Photo – Colombia Reports)

Valle proved to be an effective leader, being promoted to lead another structure of the Clan del Golfo in 2023. Valle began training a portion of his structure to act as a kind of special forces, these units were used to launch advanced attacks against authorities as well as create minefields which posed a danger to both authorities and civilians alike.

With his capture, Clan del Golfo’s structure in Córdoba has been dealt a serious blow as Valle has been a proven and effective leader for the criminal organization. With Valle out of the picture, the clan will be forced to attempt to promote or reassign another leader who can effectively fulfill his role. A suitable replacement may be difficult to find, as Valle was known for his effective use of smuggling routes and other criminal operations. His arrest may also lead to a power struggle within the structure he led; however, due to the AGC’s sophisticated structure, it is likely the local element will not be significantly impacted by this.