Juan Larrinson Castro Estupinan, a notorious drug lord wanted by prosecutors in the United States escaped from a prison in Colombia on Friday, authorities confirmed.

Estupinan, known as Matamba, was said to be a powerful figure in the Gulf Clan drug trafficking organization.

Estupinan, who was detained last May, and accused of asset laundering and of trafficking cocaine and heroin, had escaped from the La Picota prison in Bogota, allegedly with inside help.

Colombian President, Ivan Duque, told reporters that he had instructed the attorney general to ensure that those who helped Castro Estupinan escape were arrested.

“One guard has already been detained,” Justice Minister Wilson Ruiz, said.

Duque said he was leading investigators in hatching a plan to “recapture this criminal.”

Estupinan was also under investigation for committing crimes with the aim of committing murder, as well as extortion and the illegal carrying of weapons.

Formerly a communist guerrilla, he subsequently fought on the side of right-wing paramilitaries during Colombia’s 60-year conflict between the government and radical left-wing rebels.

Estupinan struck a deal with Gulf Clan leader, Dairo Usuga, who was also in prison, to take control of a group of 200 men inside the cartel, authorities said.

After Estupinan’s escape, Duque announced a comprehensive reform of Colombia’s penitentiary and prison system.

The National Penitentiary and Prisons Institute had been embroiled in several scandals.

Earlier this month, the government fired the prison head over release permits granted to businessman Carlos Mattos, who was accused of bribery.

In videos published by the Caracol television channel, Mattos could be seen leaving La Picota prison on two separate occasions in an INPEC vehicle.

The videos also showed him walking around unaccompanied and entering a building where his offices were.

“The system cannot continue with this behavior without there being exemplary punishments,” said Duque.

AFP

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