Saturday evening just before 8pm, the vice president of operations for French multinational BPO and contact center firm Webhelp was assassinated in a luxury neighborhood of Medellín. Manuel “Manu” Alejandro Morales Hurtado (above, right) was originally from Guatemala but had been living and working in Medellín managing operations for the multinational, active in over 50 countries across Europe and The Americas.
According to reports, at approximately 7:40 PM, Morales and his Colombian wife were leaving the exclusive El Tesoro shopping center in the Las Palmas area of Medellín, and approaching Loma de Los Balsos Avenue, a car hit their vehicle and immediately fled. As Morales left his vehicle to inspect the damage, two individuals approached on a motorcycle and shot Morales five times.
Police are offering a $40 million COP reward for information leading to capture of the assassins.
The assailant grabbed his watch and mobile phone and fled via motorcycle. Later, the car used in the accident was found in the Rodeo Alto neighborhood on the other side of the city. Deputy Commander Colonel Rolfy Jiménez said that both the police and Colombia’s investigative force, the CTI are investigating the crime and reviewing security cameras. The modality of the crime points more towards an organized killing rather than simple theft. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make criminal sense to involve three criminals and sacrifice an automobile just to steal a mobile phone and watch.
Morales was vice president of operations for Colombian outsourcer OneLink BPO, which was then acquired by global outsourcing firm Webhelp last July, giving the firm a strong presence in Colombia. His boss, Eduardo Salazar (above, left), who also is a former OneLink executive issued a statement.
“Manu was an exemplary leader, witness to the success of many, with a long history in the world of BPO (Business Process Outsourcing), always present and willing to support. With clear goals, not only at work, but also in his personal life. An incredible husband, father, son and friend, who loved giving everything to see those around him happy.”
With stores like Coach, Mont Blanc and Swarovski, El Tesoro is the highest end large shopping mall in Medellin, and arguably, Colombia. It is located in the Las Palmas area, a leafy suburban district far above the tourist district of El Poblado and Milla de Oro (Golden Mile) business district. The quiet, exclusive area is hilly and not conducive to pedestrian traffic, so is not generally an area frequented by muggers and pickpockets.
Though homicide overall is at a historic low in Medellín, dropping to 14.4 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2020, there have been several high profile killings involving foreigners in the city in the past year. The US State Department has issued a travel advisory saying “Reconsider travel to Colombia due to Civil Unrest, Crime, Terrorism & Kidnapping.”
Finance Colombia notes that air travel to Colombia’s major cities and tourist destinations is generally safe for tourism, family visits, and business travel, though travelers should always assess their individual circumstances.