Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Colombia: Update--Four Suspects Arrested in Stabbing Death of DEA Agent in Bogotá

According to EFE, Colombian police arrested four suspects in the stabbing murder of US DEA special agent James "Terry" Watson on June 25.

One of those arrested appears to be the driver of the taxi in which James “Terry” Watson was traveling through an exclusive sector of northern Bogotá after having dinner with colleagues.

COMMENT: According to police, Mr. Watson had hailed a taxi who was complicit with two other suspects who subsequently entered the taxi to rob Watson; however, when Watson seemingly resisted, he was stabbed to death.

Police are still looking for two other suspects connected to the murder.

The initial investigation into those responsible for the murder indicate that they could belong to a Bogotá gang known as Los Canarios.

Police General José Roberto León Riaño said at a press conference yesterday that “the murder of the DEA agent occurred as a result of violent crime and was not due to his carrying out duties as a federal narcotics agent."

León Riaño also said that the US has requested that the suspects who robbed and killed Agent Watson be extradited to the US for trial.

Watson, who recently married a Colombian woman, worked in Cartagena and was in Bogotá on business last Thursday (June 20) when he gathered with staff from other embassies to watch Game 7 of the NBA Final on television. 

As I have mentioned so many times in the past, I strongly discourage foreigners from resisting violent crime, particularly when the assailants outnumber the victim. This advice also applies to foreign law enforcement officers who generally do not have police powers in foreign countries.

Even though Watson was well-trained as a DEA agent, had he given up his valuables and complied with his assailants' demands, he might well be alive today.

As a retired US Embassy Regional Security Officer (RSO), I have personally seen too many US federal agents seriously hurt and killed while abroad because they underestimated the threat that local criminals posed.