Colombia has extradited former Medellin crime boss “Sebastian” to the United States, posing the question of whether he will collaborate with the authorities and what impact it will have on the city underworld if he does.
Erickson Vargas Cardona, alias “Sebastian,” was originally captured in August 2012 on a farm outside Medellin. At the time of his arrest he was head of the Oficina de Envigado crime syndicate, which controlled the organized crime networks stretching throughout the Aburra Valley, where Medellin is situated.
Sebastian was extradited on October 16 alongside a dozen others to face drug trafficking and money laundering charges, reported El Tiempo.
Sebastian rose to the top of the Medellin underworld after triumphing in a bloody war for the leadership of the Oficina with Maximiliano Bonilla Orozco, alias “Valenciano,” who was arrested in Venezuela in November 2011.
Since the capture of Sebastian, who has been described as the Oficina’s “last grand capo,” nobody has firmly taken the reins of the organization, which fractured into various factions.
The narco-paramilitary group the Urabeños, which had been slowly maneuvering itself into position to challenge for control of Medellin, capitalized on the power vacuum to launch an assault against the remnants of the Oficina. The war continued until a truce was signed earlier this year.
Sebastian’s extradition raises the question of what information he might give up in return for a more favorable sentence. He has been involved in the Medellin underworld since he was a youth, and has an intimate knowledge of the remaining Oficina de Envigado structures, the loose-knit networks they manage, and their powerful backers from the Medellin social and business elite.
Following the truce between the Oficina and the Urabeños, the Medellin underworld has been divided up between the now cooperating organizations. If Sebastian were to give up some of his former allies and lieutenants, this could push the balance of this pact in favor of the Urabeños, as they could push to fill any gaps left by Oficina figures betrayed by Sebastian with their own people.