Boom in Colombian extortion rings undermines security gains

In this Jan. 15, 2015 photo, police check the ID's of unlicensed cabbies in Usme, on the outskirts of Bogota, Colombia. In Usme, unlicensed cabbies eke out a living shuttling residents up steep dirt roads where buses and regular taxis won’t venture. For years each driver was forced to fork over about half their earnings to appease extortionists, but the criminal ring was dismantled in 2014 after a desperate cabbie secretly went to Colombia’s elite Gaula police unit. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Their names he never knew, but their faces he could never forget. At the end of every month, men using aliases such as “Smelly Feet” and “Grandpa” casually slipped into the backseat of his unlicensed taxi, a rusting 1985 Chevette, to demand their payment.