Leader of Colombia's Los Pelusos crime gang killed, president says

Colombia's President Ivan Duque announces the death of Luis Antonio Quintero, leader of the crime gang "Los Pelusos", during statements to journalists in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2019. Courtesy of Colombian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

BOGOTA (Reuters) - The top leader and founder of Colombia’s Los Pelusos crime gang has been killed in an operation led by the national police, President Ivan Duque said on Friday.

The gang is one of the most well-known criminal organizations in the Andean country and involved in fighting that has endangered hundreds of thousands of people in areas along the eastern border with Venezuela.

Luis Antonio Quintero, known by his alias Pacora, was a former leftist rebel who commanded some 440 gang members, the government said.

The 49-year-old was wanted on terrorism and murder charges and located in Norte de Santander province on Thursday.

“It’s clear we are going to completely break up this group,” Duque said in a statement from the United States, where he traveled for the United Nations General Assembly this week.

Quintero was responsible for the killings of human rights activists and community leaders, the statement added.

Duque has faced criticism from some in the international community for not doing more to stop killings of activists from being committed with impunity across the country.

Another leader of Los Pelusos was captured in the operation, the statement added. It did not provide details about the circumstances of Quintero’s death.

Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Tom Brown