In “Operation Poena,” conducted jointly between Colombia’s National Police, Argentina’s Federal Police and Interpol, 74 year old Argentine executive Roberto Jorge Rigoni was captured in Campana, Argentina, 90 kilometers outside of Buenos Aires. According to Insight Crime, Rigoni was a top manager in the Italian – Argentine company SICIM. SICIM was hired by Ecopetrol to build the Bicentenario Pipeline between Colombia’s troubled border department of Arauca and Casanare.
According to El Tiempo, Rigoni was caught in 2012 with 180 million pesos destined to the ELN terrorist group. But according to witnesses including ex guerilla combatants. Rignoni had gone from being a simply a payer of “vacuna” or protection money (which is still illegal) to an active collaborator and counterparty to the ELN.
According to Colombia’s National Police, Rigoni provided intelligence and millions of US dollars worth of financial support to the ELN, and working with Guerilla Gustavo Anibal Giraldo Quinchía, also known as “Pablito,” who has now risen to the ELN’s Central Command. Perhaps most critically, Rigoni helped the ELN to extort executives and engineers of his own company, and provided intelligence on his employers physical assets (heavy construction equipment, vehicles, etc.) to capture or destroy, assisting Rigoni and the ELN in efforts to extort his own company.
Rigoni left Colombia in 2015 when authorities were already working to build a case against him.
Photos courtesy of Colombia’s National Police