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Traffickers’ Latest Weapon: ‘House Bombs’

May 8, 1990

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ A top police official said Monday that Colombia’s cocaine traffickers have apparently come up with a new weapon in the drug war: house bombs.

The traffickers have been buying up homes around police headquarters and planning to blow them up, said Col. Oscar Pelaez, the chief of the country’s investigative police, known as the Dijin.

″The traffickers are willing to pay five or six times the value of the houses in order to fill them with dynamite and blow them up,″ said Pelaez.

Pelaez said at a news conference that the case was still under investigation. But he said some of the homes involved were adjacent to the investigative police headquarters in southern Bogota.

The Medellin drug cartel has targeted police in its latest onslaught of car bombings and other attacks.

Most of the violence has been in Medellin itself, where more than 30 police officers have been killed the last two months. Several civilians have also died in the attacks.

Last Saturday, Medellin police deactivated a car bomb made with 440 pounds of dynamite and 110 pounds of ball-bearings. The car had been abandoned on a city street. Police blamed the traffickers.

The druglords have said in communiques that they are retaliating for what they say is police torture and killing of detained cartel members. At Monday’s news conference, the chief of police, Gen. Miguel Gomez, repeated an official denial of that.

Pelaez said police were tipped off to the house bomb plot by informers in the cartel. He said indiscriminate violence by the cartel had disenchanted some members.

″Many people are ready to collaborate in a common crime,″ Pelaez said in an interview after the news conference. ″They are willing to kill an individual. But when it comes to these collective massacres, they are sickened, and they denounce the actions.″

He said police had also received cooperation from private citizens who live near houses that traffickers tried to buy. ″The people realize that their lives are threatened,″ he said.

Meanwhile, authorities found the bodies of 13 people who they said had been massacred in southern Guaviare state.

The state’s governor, Wilfredo Ceron said Monday the killings had taken place Friday in dense jungle that prevented its confirmation until days later. He told the RCN radio network the killings were apparently the result of a private feud.

Update hourly