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June 1, 2006 8:29:30 | in General

'La Gata' - Peru's most wanted criminal

(by Wolfy Becker)

Luxurious security. Busted house at Jr. Ignacio Torote 631, Los OlivosHe is the most sought-after criminal in Peru: the ex-police captain Jhonny Vásquez Carty, a.k.a. “La Gata” (the cat), ringleader of a criminal organization that has perpetrated several kidnappings in Lima. Yesterday the police thought they had closed in on him and had him practically surrounded. Or so they thought. A SWAT team bust into a house in Los Olivos (North Lima), thought to be one of his hide outs, only to come up empty again.

"The Cat" is clever, no doubt. He deceived police controls for a long time by driving around the city in a Volvo with a diplomatic license plate. “This vehicle could not be stopped or searched by the police because of its supposed immunity”, said public prosecutor Francisco Reyes Yábar. “The Ministry of Foreign Relations ordered to smelt the plates in 1998”, informed Second Major Guevara Chávez, head of the fraud department, in charge of the operation.
The case of “La Gata” is especially enigmatic because of his experience as a former police officer, his habitual coldness and meticulousness with which he commits his crimes. Before each kidnapping he always observes the scene and its environs, learns how to bypass the installed security systems of potential victims, as well as the police's technical equipment and devices. Throughout the investigation, two captured former accomplices have collaborated with the anti-kidnapping division, providing detailed information of his "modus operandi". About 300 police agents are following the cat's tail and footsteps. His capture is of the highest priority, even if a price has to be paid.

'La Gata'. Jhonny Vasquez, Peru's most wanted criminalCurrent photos of him and up-to-date personal data were found yesterday during a search of the 'Agrovpan' company premises, located on Ignacio Torote street, No. 631. This company was legally registered as a motor repair shop, a facade to hide its real purpose of the four-story building: to serve as headquarters for a group of forgers specialized in falsifying visas and passports, national and foreign credit cards and all types of documents needed and used to apply for banking loans and credits in large commercial centers.
In the office of the company's owner, Carlos Enrique Ordoñez Montoro, authorities also found photos of Joseph Gelber Avilés Arnao, a.k.a. “Hulk II” and lieutenant of “the Cat” - captured together with another accomplice, Luis Renato Zumaeta Maldonado, on May 20 in San Martin de Porres. Carlos Enrique was arrested along with his brother Jorge Ordoñez Montoro and their nephew, Jorge Alexis Montoro Arroyo. A woman named Ruth Huamaní was also present at the time when police stormed in, but she claimed to be only interviewing for a job. Embarrassingly, the agents revealed that the premises had already been searched as part of an investigation three years ago when it was discovered that it was one of the largest operating falsification centers in Lima. Nobody could explain how it could now be active again. The suspects arranged bank loan transactions of up to 200.000 soles per month, receiving a 50 % commission. Investigators couldn't explain either why the Judicial Power delayed the search warrant for the building. “Perhaps we would have found the kidnappers the country is so desperately looking for”, a troubled official said. He indicated that the affected businesses are Banco Wiese, Banco de Comercio, the department stores Saga Falabella and Ripley, and 16 other companies. “We filed for a search warrant two days ago but a judge from North Lima (cono norte) didn't let us do our job”, one of the agents insisted.

Carlos Enrique Ordoñez is the owner of six other companies employing 40 people, according to the Direction of Criminal Investigation. In an adjoining room the Police found explosive devices, the light of a police car, detonators and, most incredibly, a compact disc containing 'Sunat' material; confidential taxpayer information and registered data of businessmen, retailers, industrialists - people who fit the bill of a potential kidnapping victim.
Also found were 40 credit cards, seven passports and a motorcycle Yamaha MI-6028, presumably used in their schemes of betrayal. The 'Fraud Division' and 'Anti-Kidnapping Division' are analyzing the data memorized on computer hard drives which were also found. “We are sure that there are many surprises”, an anxious Sec. Major Guevara said.

The ex-police captain - a man who is now desperately wanted by his ex-colleagues of the Division of Kidnapping Investigations -  received a dishonorable discharge in the nineties for acts of indiscipline. He turned into the criminal 'Jhonny the Cat' and is believed to be responsible for the latest plagiarisms in Peru's capital. His brother, too, is an active police commander, working the good side of the fence; he doesn't have anything to do with the delinquents.
The last kidnapping targets of `La Gata' and his accomplices, according to Division, have been the Spanish industrialist Andrés Gude González and the couple Gonzalo Benavides Elías and Cinthia Cánepa. An extreme amount of money was paid for the freedom of all three.

Jhonny Vasquez Carty, a.k.a. 'La Gata'He served his last jail term at the Piedras Gordas prison. He was granted provisional parole and used this opportunity to regroup with his gang members, continuing his crime spree. But now the number of his buddies is shrinking one by one. When his lieutenant “Hulk II” fell into the police's hands seven days ago, he had a video in which he was seen thanking "The Cat" for organizing his kids' birthday party. The commando of the PNP has arranged an intensification of their efforts to avoid that the fugitive flees the country. The police is assuming that he is in possession of false documents and passports, probably preparing his escape to either the Dominican Republic or Costa Rica.

The Limean community is helping, too. In regard to crimes of greater social impact, like kidnappings, the police received 64 complaints and managed to solve 78 cases. Four kidnapping gangs have been shattered,  23 police reports have been formulated and 170 files were created. In addition, firearms and four vehicles were seized, and 23 people were detained, 2 of them women. All in the last 5 months.

Still, there's a lot more that needs to be done.

(photo source: 'La Republica' and PNP)

read also our related articles:

- The 30 most dangerous kidnapping areas in Lima
- Police captures seven alleged kidnappers
- The Cat is in the bag!

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