The Office of Envigado
|Founded||Diego Murillo Bejarano|
|Founding location||Medellin, Colombia|
|Years active||1993-2012 (semi-defunct)|
|Territory||Medellin, its area and all Antioquia Department|
|Criminal activities||Drug trafficking, extortion, murder, money laundering, terrorism, bootlegging and gun-running|
|Allies||Los Zetas, Los Rastrojos, Colombian parmilitary drug groups|
The Office of Envigado, or La Oficina de Envigado, is the violent drug cartel in the criminal underworld that inherited the Medellín Cartel, Pablo Escobar’s drug trafficking empire in Colombia, with powerful criminal connections in the U.S., Mexico and the U.K. . It operates throughout Colombia, but mainly in the cities of Medellín and Envigado. It also controls extortion, gambling and money laundering businesses within the Valle de Aburra that surrounds Medellin. It positioned itself as the chief mediator and debt collector in drug trafficking disputes and maintaining major connections with the "paracos" (Colombian paramilitaries) and guerillas.
Originally founded as an enforcement wing for the Medellín Cartel by Diego Murillo Bejarano, aka Don Berna, (an EPL guerrilla deserter), it is made up of an endless pool of Pablo Escobar's most brutal street gangs, killers for hire and sicarios; young assassins from the lower-estrato neighborhoods of Medellín. Murillo however fell out with Pablo Escobar, and joined forces with Los Pepes to help oust him. The Office and its operations then began to get affiliated with the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, and Murillo organised drug trafficking operations on their behalf. The Office also controlled a fearsome enforcement gang, La Terraza, one of the most feared sicario in the country.
The Oficina has evolved into a sizable narco-trafficking operation from Medellín to the northern coast of Colombia and the Panamanian border area, drawing many of its leaders from former Colombian paramilitary blocs, while its lower ranks are filled with an endless pool of willing teenagers and young men from the lower-estrato barrios in the hills of Medellin, mainly in Robledo and Manrique, that moonlight as sicarios and are willing to kill in cold blood for as little as $25 USD.
The Oficina's deadly battles have left numerous public figures dead as a result of its penchant for settling debts with firepower. Much of the unrest in and around Medellín is attributed to the Oficina. The "patrones" alternated between battling each other and rallying to fight outside foes, but they have been consistent in their cooption of local police and other security officials
After the AUC demobilised in 2005, Murillo was arrested for the murder of a local politician, although managed to run his empire from prison and made a deal with the authorities to use his power to keep violence to a minimum. In 2008 however Murillo was extradited alongst other paramilitary leaders, and the Office was hurt by infighting between rival factions led by Maximiliano Bonilla Orozco, alias Valenciano, and John Ericson Vargas Cardona, alias Sebastian, a paisa, native of Barrio Popular in Medellin., as well as conflict with the Los Urabeños. Vargas was arrested at his ranch in August 2012.
As well as drugs, the Office also controls a number of casinos and gambling establishments, which it uses to launder money. The Office also has links with local authority figures and police officers, some of which moonlight as assassins. It has alliances with Los Rastrojos and Los Zetas in Mexico.
- Toby Muse in Medellín. "New drug gang wars blow Colombian city's revival apart". The Guardian.
- "BBC News - Colombia drug lord 'Sebastián' arrested". Bbc.co.uk. 2012-08-08. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
- "Oficina de Envigado". InSight Crime. Retrieved 2012-10-14.