They took away properties from “Los Topos”: they sold nature reserve lots for urban projects in Meta

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The assets affected for domain extinction purposes amount to 2,500 million pesos

They took properties from “Los Topos”: they were selling natural reserve lots for urban projects in Meta

They took properties from “Los Topos”: they sold natural reserve lots for urban projects in El Meta

The articulated work of the Attorney General's Office, through the Specialized Directorate for Asset Forfeiture; The Directorate of Carabineros of the National Police and the National Army made it possible to impact the illegal assets of the Los Tierreros or Los Topos criminal organization, which would be involved in the aggressive deforestation of the so-called Villavicencio green cordon and the sale illegal lot in this protected area.

In this sense, 25 rural properties, 11 urban properties and 3 vehicles were occupied, whose value exceeds 2,500 million pesos. The proceedings were carried out simultaneously in Bogotá, Hobo (Huila), Cómbita (Boyacá), Manizales (Caldas) and Cali (Valle del Cauca); and Villavicencio, Restrepo and Barranca de Upía (Meta).

Los Tierreros or Los Topos would have generated modifications to the land and contaminated water sources, among other serious damage to the ecosystem of the region.

According to the Corporation for the Sustainable Development of the Special Management Area La Macarena (Cormacarena), the affected area amounts to 7.1 hectares, in which 1,164 trees were felled.

The deforested lands, apparently, were invaded, parceled out and sold piecemeal with promises of utility networks.

This illicit commercial activity was allegedly promoted by a supposed non-profit association that advertised and offered the properties to try to give the project an appearance of legality. Several inspections revealed the use of yellow machinery and the presence of surveyors, architects and other workers.

Additionally, during the investigation it was identified a lawyer who would be in charge of the fraudulent maneuvers in notaries of Villavicencio to finalize the sale of the lots; and an armed component indicated to intimidate people who opposed or made claims when realizing the irregularities was revealed.

The goods affected with precautionary measures of suspension of the dispositive power, seizure and kidnapping were made available to the Special Assets Society (SAE).

The authorities had been following the trail of Los ToposFor several time, in March 2021, this group was singled out by the authorities for the crimes of extortion, conspiracy to commit a crime, forced displacement, threats, land invasion and fluid fraud.

In an investigative work that lasted more than nine months, the authorities were able to identify this criminal group, made up of six men and two women, who through constraint and intimidation with firearms invaded large tracts of private land, to subsequently break them up and illegally market them under the façade of an association dedicated to this type of activity.

Four of the members of this criminal group, including two women known as “La Tierrera” and “La Mona”, as well as two men known as “El Calvo” and “El Jurídico”; They took advantage of their status as social leaders and legal representatives of peasant family associations to lead these criminal behaviors that put at risk the economic assets of the citizens of Villavicencio and other municipalities in the department of El Meta, such as Acacias, Granada, Guamal, among others.

Similarly, the authorities managed to link four more men to this investigative process, known as “Marlon ”, “Stabs”, “Shackhouse” and “Padlock”; which were in charge of intimidating the citizens for the displacement and collection of the properties that they illegally commercialized under the figure of the right of possession.

Their modus operandi consisted of carrying out forced displacement of the owners of different lands, posing as an organized crime group and later using low-income families to invade the properties, trying to evade the 48-hour preventive action that the authorities have for evictions .

Once they managed to usurp the land, they demanded between 10 and 15 million pesos for each lot, creating illegal housing settlements with fluid fraud such as the energy service, they even made economic demands on the general public to allow them to transit through the main roads of these illegal settlements; forcing people who refused to comply with the demands to leave these places.

Source: Colombian National Police and Attorney General's Office