Miércoles, 22 de febrero de 2017

| 2010/06/10 00:00

A big time drug dealer

Colombian and Mexican authorities are in awe with ‘the Arquitect’, a powerful and discreet drug dealer to whom they recently seized properties valued in 150 million dollars.

A big time drug dealer

With more than 20 years in the business and a fortune that authorities in four different countries have not finished counting, Pedro Antonio Bermúdez Suaza is one of the most sophisticated ‘narcos’ yet to be known. Only this week, the Dijin police force occupied 200 of his land properties in Colombia, valued in 150 million dollars. But this is only his Colombia chapter; his biggest businesses are based in Mexico, where he settled after leaving Medellín many years ago, when his mother still made a living as a cleaning lady.

Bermúdez, alias ‘the Arquitect’, is a commercial pilot who started working in the “mafia” as a carrier of materials. He flew planes for Pablo Escobar and the Ochoa Vásquez brothers in the late eighties. Without losing touch with the drug trafficking networks, he decided to travel to Mexico in search of a future. According to a leyend, his alias refers to his work as one of the first dealers to construct tunnels in the frontier between Mexico and the United States.

Gradually, he expanded his participation in the operation, always acting as a crucial link between the Colombian and Mexican mafias while posing to the rest of the world as a successful entrepreneur with investments in countless million-dollar businesses he used as fronts to launder drug money. As his fortune grew, ‘the Architect’ began involving his family in the business and even acquired various identities to move easily in multiple commercial circles where he was recognized as a reputed investor.

“Bermúdez was an extension in Mexico of the Northern Valle cartel, lead by Luis Hernando Gómez Bustamante alias ‘Rasguño’” says a researcher from a special group within the Dijin. The authorities calculate that ‘the Architect’ could distribute between five and six tons of cocaine in association with the powerful Sinaloa cartel, which belongs to Joaquín ‘el chapo’ Guzmán, the feared capo of capos of Mexico. Bermúdez’s debacle began in September 2007, when one of his jets crashed in Yucatan, Mexico. The authorities found 3.7 tons of cocaine and tape-recordings directly linking the shipment with Felipe Bermúdez Durán, one of his sons. With such evidence, the Mexican authorities began inquiries, and discovered that ‘the Architect’ sat as head of that mafia network. On October 3rd 2008, father and son were captured along with several of their closest associates.

Since then, the Mexican authorities, in association with their colleagues in Colombia, Panama and the United States, have thoroughly investigated the complex business structure that Bermúdez Suaza constructed over the past two decades. Much of his empire is already included in the “Clinton List”. Last week, new inquiries allowed authorities to deploy a massive operation to seize properties in four zones of Colombia. 30 luxurious properties, including townhouses, apartments and businesses, 35 ranches, 3 jets and 76 lots, among others. At press time, the authorities were also looking for a collection of 18 antique cars, including several Mercedes-Benz and Mustangs. Some of the seized properties are the Taxi Aereo Antioqueño, Agroganadera Los Santos, Grupo Falcón, and la Hostería Llanogrande, in Rionegro, remembered by many because it has served as headquarters for the national soccer team on several occasions.

Even though a New York court has repeatedly requested the extradition of ‘the Architect’ to the United States, the Mexican authorities have not delivered. The investigators that know about the case are not surprised. The first thing they understood is that although he is a Colombian ‘narco’, his true power and capacity for corruption are in Mexico.

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