Director Of Colombia’s Government Protection Service Survives Assassination Attempt; Inside Job Suspected
Augusto Rodríguez Ballesteros, the director of Colombia’s National Protection Unit (UNP), was attacked in his residence in an attempted assassination after months of crusading to investigate the alleged corruption happening within the government agency.
Six armed people reportedly entered Rodríguez’s residence on Thursday, March 2, and attempted to attack him just as he was coming back to his residence after picking up his daughter from university. Rodríguez found himself in an encounter with the assassins, and it left one of the assassins dead and one of his escorts injured from the incident.
President Gustavo Petro, who fought with Rodríguez during his days as a rebel, condemned the attacks as an attempt by the “recruitment mafias” inside the UNP to silence the director, who has been investigating allegations of corruption within the organization.
The UNP provides protection to Colombian politicians and other individuals who fear violence, such as social leaders.
“Augusto denounced the recruitment mafias at the UNP. Today they wanted to kill him, I ask the prosecutor to speed up the investigations into these complaints, the evidence is in his hands.”
Rodríguez has been attempting to expose a claim that a closely-knit of former Administrative Department of Security (DAS) agents, officials, and contractors inside the UNP are rigging bids, accepting bribes, stealing equipment from inside the organization, interfering with protection orders, and even reportedly transporting drugs for cartels.
Two witnesses, Martín Ricardo Manjarrés Cabezas Yonn Jairo García Rivera, have claimed to be a part of the armored car scheme and have linked at least 17 prominent people to the alleged UNP mafia, many of whom are also members of the entity’s unions and have been influential in the agency for years.
“In the UNP, everything #SmellsBad even their own unions are sources of corruption. See this beauty and share it before her corrupt accomplices make her remove it from networks,” lawyer and MoVidaCol spokesperson Maria Niny Echeverry said.
En la @UNPColombia todo #HueleMal hasta sus propios sindicatos son focos de corrupción.
Vean esta belleza y compártanla antes de que sus cómplices corruptos la hagan quitar de redes.pic.twitter.com/HN0NWFl2Tv
— Maria Niny Echeverry (@Marianiniecheve) March 9, 2023
This attack would not be the first attempt at Rodríguez’s life: the night before the attack, a vehicle was found to be following them, and the director was asked to stay inside until the situation was under control.
Also, ten hours before the crime, a UNP truck assigned to Rep. Juan Loreto Gómez for his protection was found with 175 cartridges for a 5.56x45mm caliber rifle in Barrancas, La Guajira, illegally carrying the ammunition through the area.
The man who was captured, Juan José Madiedo Ospino, appears to have been linked to the mayor of Barrancas, Iván Mauricio Soto, and the Inter Urbanismo Barrancas consortium with whom Mauricio recently awarded a multi-million-peso contract to the company.
Rodríguez has expressed the belief that the people attempting to kill him are coming from the agency itself: “I can’t say that this is the case, but I don’t want to rule it out. The moment I arrived at the entity I found myself in a complicated situation. Vehicles were scarce, and [there were] groups of cartel culture.”