Colombia News

Colombia Holds Its Ground in Drug War of Words with US

Colombia Holds Its Ground in Drug War of Words with US

Amid heated discord between the United States and Colombia regarding surging drug production in the South American country, Colombian officials are making it clear that they are not buckling under US pressure to harden the country's new, less draconian anti-narcotic strategies.

Colombia Profile

Colombia

Colombia

After over half a century of civil war and the rise and fall of drug trafficking empires, Colombia has made huge strides in improving its security situation in recent years. However, it remains beset by guerrilla rebels and criminal networks, and the Colombian underworld is a potent mix of ideological organizations and their remnants and organized crime where the boundaries between war and crime are fluid. These armed groups and criminal networks are involved in an extensive range of activities including drug production and trafficking, arms trafficking, money laundering, extortion and illegal mining. 

More Colombia News

  • Clinton: Mexico "like Colombia 20 years ago"

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made headlines Wednesday for making a frank comparison between Mexico's drug war and Colombia's insurgency.

  • Alleged 'Barbie' Associate Facing Charges in Costa Rica

    In an illustration of the reach of the Beltrán Leyva Organization, an associate of Edgar Valdez Villareal, alias La Barbie, is facing trial in Costa Rica for drug trafficking, according to a report by La Nación newspaper. Walberto Salazar Cuero, alias Guavita, is the owner of a small fishing fleet. He allegedly helped Valdez move upwards of three tons of cocaine per month along the Pacific Coast. The cocaine is thought to come from the 30th Front Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) guerrilla group.

  • 8 Security Forces Dead in Colombia

    El Tiempo newspaper and Reuters report that eight members of the Colombian Armed Forces were killed in attacks in various parts of the country that the authorities blamed on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) and the Popular Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Popular - EPL). It is the worst attacks since former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos took the presidency on August 7.
  • Thousands Displaced in Medellin

    In Colombia there are reports by El Tiempo that the urban violence in Medellin has displaced at least 1,870 people so far this year. Those are only the official numbers kept by the city's Ombudsman's Office.

  • 'Barbie' Talks?

    Mexican authorities are making it seem as if Edgar Valdez Villareal, alias “La Barbie,” is cooperating with them following their recent capture of the drug lord. The police released a video, seen here on El Universal’s website where the former top level security guard for Arturo Beltran Leyva, who tried to start his own organization following the death of his boss in December 2009, talks about his meetings Mexico’s most wanted traffickers, including Joaquin Guzman, alias “El Chapo.”

  • Colombia Government: 152 Gangs in Medellin

    Colombian authorities have indentified 152 gangs operating in Medellin, according to a report by Caracol citing a government intelligence report.
  • Uruguay's Security Minister: "Feudalization" of Drug Trafficking

    In an academic forum in Montevideo, Uruguay’s Interior Minister Eduardo Bonomi said the country is experiencing a “feudalization” of the criminal world in that country, a report by El Pais newspaper said. The minister made specific reference to Serbian, Mexican, Colombian and Brazilian criminal networks that are infiltrating the country, a process the minister worries will accelerate Uruguayan groups’ learning curve.
  • FARC

    As the biggest irregular army in Colombia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) have long operated in various regions of the country in search of resources to fund their insurgency. They agreed to end their 52-year war against the government in August 2016, as part of a peace process that began in 2012.

    The FARC are the oldest and most important guerrilla group in the Western Hemisphere. They have long financed their political and military battle against the Colombian government through kidnapping, extortion and participating in the drug trade on various levels.

  • Plan Colombia

    "Plan Colombia" is a multi-pronged, multi-billion dollar effort to battle drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), insurgencies and paramilitary groups in the Andean nation. Passed in 2000 at the tail end of the Clinton administration, the plan enjoyed bipartisan support in Washington and helped initiate and sustain widespread systemic changes in Colombia that have helped the country dismantle several large criminal groups including the North Valley Cartel (Cartel del Norte del Valle - NVC), the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia - AUC) paramilitary group and the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN) insurgency.

    The US has given Colombia over $7 billion in mostly military assistance since 2000 as part of the plan. Much of this aid has gone to training, military hardware such as helicopter gunships and advanced intelligence gathering equipment. Colombia did its part by tripling its military budget, nearly doubling the size of its Armed Forces and professionalizing the Armed Forces. Another large portion of the US aid went to eradication efforts, while smaller portions have gone to social and economic programs.

    The results have been equally mixed. The military and police have greatly increased their intelligence gathering capacity, and their ability to react quickly to this intelligence has led to the capture or death of numerous criminal leaders and insurgents, including three of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) rebels’ top commanders. The FARC, once an insurgency with close to 17,000 soldiers, is half that size today. The AUC demobilized under pressure from the government. The NVC self-destructed, and the ELN is nearly extinct. Production of coca, which is the raw material for cocaine, dropped as well, but other Andean nations have increased their output, offsetting these gains in Colombia. Kidnappings and homicide levels dropped steeply, but in a troubling sign, the national murder rate has begun to increase again.Plan Colombia continues to stir debate in Washington and elsewhere as policymakers and lawmakers struggle for a strategy to help Mexico and Central America contain the growing strength of criminal groups in the Isthmus. Many politicians, including Bill Clinton, have called for a “Plan Mexico,” and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently likened Mexico to Colombia, a comment that drew strong criticism from Mexican government officials. Policy wonks and non-governmental groups are weighing in as well, offering both criticisms and praise of the policy that promises to be at the heart of most any security strategy in the region for years to come.Resources

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Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.