In 2008, the then active captain of the Army, Telmo Castro,received $ 600,000 for the six tons of drugs he transported from the border with Colombia to the points of embarkation in Ecuador: coastal ports and clandestine airstrips.
The revelation was made on Wednesday by former drugt rafficker Jorge Cifuentes, alias J, protected witness in the judicial processin the United States against Joaquín ‘el Chapo’ Guzmán, leader of the Sinaloacartel who was extradited to the United States in 2017.
The 52-year-old Colombian, born in Medellín and arrested in 2013, brought out the connection of the Mexican cartel with Ecuador, through a modus operandi that involved active members of the Army led by Telmo Castro. The payment was 100 dollars for each kilo of cocaine that they transported.
Although Cifuentes spoke of the use of military vehicles in the transfer of cocaine from the border with Colombia to the coves in Quito and Guayaquil, to avoid roadblocks, the Army clarified yesterday, through a statement, that the arrest of Castro happened in October 2009, when he was in passive service, and that they were not trucks of the institution but some that pretended to be because they were painted the same color and have the same logos.
While it is true that the anti-narcotics operation Anniversary was executed in October, with which a long blow to the drug trade was dealt, it is also true that Telmo Castro had just three months of having entered into an availability process that ended in January 2010.
According to Army records, Castro was an expert in military intelligence who, between 2008 and 2009, was part of the center-north group, which handled reserved information on the controls in the provinces of Esmeraldas and Carchi, bordering Colombia, as well as Pichincha and Imbabura.
Castro was arrested along with Sergeant Rodrigo Rigoberto Guamán Herrera in the town of Baeza, when they were transporting 557 kilos of cocaine from Lago Agrio (Sucumbíos) to Quito, in a truck that was discovered after he did not belong to the Army.
In his testimony, Castro said that he worked under the orders of Colombian capo Ramón Quintero Sanclemente, of the Norte del Valle cartel, who was arrested the following year in Quito, in an operation of the Ecuadorian Police that received the support of the US Anti-Drug Department
Police sources told this newspaper that Castro, who spent almost two years in a prison in Tena, continued from there his criminal activities and maintained links with the Colombian criminal gang Los Rastrojos, which was in the service of the Norte del Valle cartel.
According to ex-Cifuentes, in addition to the sea route to take the drugs from Ecuador to Mexico (see graph), the Sinaloa cartel had the area of planes that landed on clandestine airstrips.
In a police operation executed in 2013 Castro was arrested for the traffic of 300 kilos of drugs in a small plane, which was then said to be related to the aircraft that had fallen earlier in Pedernales, Manabí, with a shipment of dollars and the Flinghtder, of plates HC-AMB, found in January of that same year in a hacienda of Vinces.
In his testimony, Cifuentes said that El Chapo had a flotilla of five small planes to transport the drug from Ecuador to Mexico. These, according to his testimony, were later replaced by more modern and even disposable ones.
Although the idea did not materialize, El Chapo also tried to traffic drugs through boats owned by the Mexican government, from a port in Ecuador to the port of Lázaro Cárdenas, in Michoacán.
The most worrying cases
Cases of drug trafficking, in which members of the Armed Forces and the Police are involved, in passive and active service, have been increasing in the last ten years.
The case of Telmo Castro was one of the first, but afterthis there have been others, among them, that a Colonel of the Police wasleading a traffic group in Esmeraldas; that a coast guard protect a shipment inEl Oro and that a ton of cocaine be found at the Manta air base. (I)