Óscar Mauricio Pachón, alias “Puntilla,” was a drug trafficker who controlled a criminal network descended from paramilitaries in Colombia’s strategic Eastern Plains region. He was arrested in February 2016 but was released in April 2017 under suspicious circumstances. He was killed in 2018 in a shootout with Colombian police in Medellín.
Pachón was for years an obscure character who worked his way through the ranks of the country’s biggest cartels before finally taking over the drug trafficking empire of kingpin Daniel “El Loco” Barrera and command of the criminal armed groups the Meta Bloc (Bloque Meta) and Liberators of Vichada (Libertadores de Vichada), now collectively referred to as the Puntilleros.
Pachón cut his teeth in Colombia’s underworld as a stable boy and subsequently a hired assassin for the Medellín Cartel. He later worked with the Norte del Valle Cartel, and began to rise in the underworld after setting up his own cocaine processing laboratories in the departments of Valle del Cauca and Caquetá.
Pachón arrived in Colombia’s Eastern Plains at the end of the 1990s, where he used his earnings to buy large swaths of land in the departments of Meta, Guaviare and Vichada. By 1998, he was forging ties with major drug boss Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, who dominated drug trafficking in the Eastern Plains from 2003 until his capture in 2012. Together, they ran drug trafficking routes into the United States and Europe.
However, the relationship between Pachón and Barrera soured, and Pachón was even rumored to have provided the information that led to Barrera’s capture in 2012. With Barrera subsequently extradited to the United States, Pachón made his move to establish himself as the region’s principal kingpin, ordering the assassination of a number of Barrera’s lieutenants who resisted his power play.
While Pachón had a reputation within his criminal circle for his violent retaliations against people he considered to be threatening or untrustworthy, he managed to maintain a low profile for years. The investigation that led to Pachón’s capture began in 2013, when police discovered a cocaine laboratory capable of processing 500 to 600 kilograms of the drug per week in Mapiripán, Meta.
On February 26, 2016, the crime boss was arrested in a rural area of Cimitarra municipality, Santander. However, he was released in April 2017, before being immediately detained and then released again. The Attorney General’s Office announced it was investigating potential irregularities in the judicial decisions shortly after Pachón was freed the second time.
Pachón is alleged to have overseen the cultivation of coca crops, cocaine laboratories, and trafficking routes, and run his own network of hitmen.
Pachón’s main area of operations was the Eastern Plains, Colombia’s vast lowlands that are abundant with coca crops, drug laboratories, and trafficking routes into neighboring Venezuela. As his allies were captured or killed, Pachón’s influence spread across their former territories and into the departments of Norte de Santander, Meta and Vichada.
Pachón’s tentacles reached the capital city of Bogotá, where he has reportedly provided contract killing services.
Allies and Enemies
Pachón’s principal alliance was with Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, although he turned on what remained of Barrera’s network after the drug lord’s arrest and extradition.
Following Barrera’s departure, Pachón reportedly established alliances with the leader of the narco-guerrillas the Popular Liberation Army (Ejército Popular de Liberación – EPL), Víctor Ramón Navarro, alias “Megateo,” in Norte de Santander, and Urabeños leader Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias “Otoniel.”
He was also an ally of Martín Farfán Díaz González, alias “Pijarbey” or “Pijarvey,” the leader of the Libertadores de Vichada who was killed in September 2015. At the time of his arrest, Pachón was considered a leading figure in the criminal organizations Libertadores de Vichada and Meta Bloc, splinter groups formed following the breakup of the neo-paramilitary group the Popular Revolutionary Anti-Terrorist Army of Colombia (Ejército Revolucionario Popular Antiterrorista Colombiano – ERPAC). Such was his influence, that the two criminal networks became collectively known as the “Puntilleros”
Little had been heard of Pachón prior to his death. While he may have returned to the Eastern Plains after he was released in 2017 to resume oversight of the drug trafficking empire there, he could have attempted to go underground.
According to the Colombian Attorney-General’s Office, Puntilla was in Medellin after reaching an agreement to receive protection from the Oficina de Envigado gang in exchange for information about the drug trafficking routes through the Eastern Plains.
His death may open up a power vacuum within the Puntilleros organization. But there had been indications that Puntilla was seeking to withdraw from the criminal lifestyle and his passing is unlikely to bring about major changes in the underworld of Colombia’s Eastern Plains.