Saturday evening just before 8 p.m., the vice-president of operations of the French multinational BPO and contact center Webhelp was assassinated in a luxurious neighborhood of Medellín. Manuel “Manu” Alejandro Morales Hurtado (above, right) was originally from Guatemala but lived and worked in Medellín, managing operations for the multinational, active in more than 50 countries across Europe and the Americas.
According to reports, at around 7:40 p.m., Morales and his Colombian wife were leaving the exclusive El Tesoro shopping center in the Las Palmas district of Medellín and approaching Loma de Los Balsos Avenue, a car hit their vehicle and s immediately fled. As Morales left his vehicle to inspect the damage, two individuals approached on motorcycles and shot Morales five times.
The police are offering a $40 million COP reward for information leading to the killers’ capture.
The assailant grabbed his watch and cell phone and fled on a motorbike. Later, the car used in the crash was found in the Rodeo Alto neighborhood on the other side of town. Deputy Commander Col. Rolfy Jiménez said police and Colombia’s investigative force, the CTI, are investigating the crime and examining security cameras. The modality of the crime leans more towards organized murder rather than simple robbery. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make sense to involve three criminals and sacrifice an automobile just to steal a cell phone and a watch.
Morales was vice president of operations for Colombian outsourcer OneLink BPO, which was later acquired by global outsourcing company Webhelp last July, giving the company a strong presence in Colombia. Its boss, Eduardo Salazar (above, left), who is also a former OneLink executive, released a statement.
“Manu was an exemplary leader, witness to the success of many, with a long history in the world of BPO (Business Process Outsourcing), always present and ready to support. With clear goals, not only at work, but also in his personal life. An incredible husband, father, son and friend who loved to give everything to see those around him happy.
With stores like Coach, Mont Blanc and Swarovski, El Tesoro is the most upscale large mall in Medellin and arguably Colombia. It is located in the Las Palmas district, a leafy suburban area well above the tourist district of El Poblado and the business district of Milla de Oro (Golden Mile). The quiet and exclusive area is hilly and not conducive to foot traffic, so it is not generally an area frequented by muggers and pickpockets.
Although homicides overall are at a historic low in Medellín, falling to 14.4 homicides per 100,000 population in 2020, there have been several high-profile murders involving foreigners in the city over the past year. The US State Department issued a travel advisory saying “Reconsider travel to Colombia due to civil unrest, crime, terrorism and kidnappings”.
Finance Colombia notes that air travel to major cities and tourist destinations in Colombia is generally safe for tourism, family visits and business trips, although travelers should always assess their personal circumstances.