Page last updated at 01:29 GMT, Thursday, 9 April 2009 02:29 UK

Colombia drugs battle claims 29

By Jeremy McDermott
BBC News, Medellin

President Alvaro Uribe has ordered soldiers onto the streets
President Alvaro Uribe has ordered soldiers on to the streets

At least 29 people have been killed in Colombia as drug traffickers fight for control of an organisation set up by Pablo Escobar of the Medellin cartel.

The mafia group was set up by Escobar as an assassination service.

After his death in 1993, it expanded into drugs trafficking and extortion, becoming one of the most feared gangs in the country.

It is like a return to Escobar's bad old days, with bodies turning up across the city as the mafia fights it out.

Soldiers on streets

Such is the concern that President Alvaro Uribe returned to his native city and ordered 500 soldiers on to the street in the most sensitive neighbourhoods, hoping to contain the violence.

The killings started after a suspected leader of the so-called Office of Envigado, as the mafia group is known, was arrested on the Caribbean Coast, where he was allegedly running a drug-smuggling operation.

There have also been allegations that one of the heads of the organisation is negotiating a deal with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to turn himself in.

That will inevitably lead to the secrets of the Office being revealed.

The result has been a bloodbath, as the underworld seeks to silence those that dare to speak to the US authorities and the underlings in the Office of Envigado jockey for the top job.

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