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Colombia News

Massive Colombia Cocaine Seizure Shows Signs of Underworld Shake-Up

Massive Colombia Cocaine Seizure Shows Signs of Underworld Shake-Up

Colombia's largest cocaine seizure in over a decade is a blow to the Urabeños criminal group and illustrates the impact of the government's crackdown on the group, which is being carried out in the Urabeños' traditional stronghold and could have ripple effects throughout Colombia's criminal landscape.

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

  • Drug Capos Looking for Way Out Via Colombia Peace Accords

    Drug capos are trying to exploit the FARC peace accords

    Authorities in Colombia have filtered out more than two dozen drug capos attempting to pass themselves off as FARC guerrillas in order to take advantage of judicial benefits offered to demobilizing rebels under the terms of a 2016 peace agreement. The incident is another sign of the obstacles the country's thriving drug trade poses to the peace process.

  • Pockets of Rising Violence in Rural Colombia Despite National Drop in Murders

    Some parts of the Colombian countryside are seeing murders spike

    While Colombia boasts its lowest homicide rate in nearly half a century, pockets of spiking violence in several rural areas tell a different story -- that of armed groups struggling for control of lucrative criminal markets as Colombia's armed conflict enters a new phase.

  • After Death of Number Two, Colombia's Urabeños Offer to Surrender

    Wanted picture of alias "Otoniel"

    The most wanted drug trafficker in Colombia and leader of the powerful Urabeños has offered to surrender himself and his organization to authorities just days after his number two was killed by security forces. However, it is unlikely that the dispersed, decentralized criminal group will be able to rally the rank and file away from their drug trafficking activities in exchange for a prison cell.

  • The FARC's Riches: Up to $580 Million in Annual Income

    The FARC may have earned up to $580 million a year

    The former rebels of what was once Latin America's oldest insurgency, the FARC, continually claimed to have barely any money. And while they did have a lot of expenses, they also have traditionally sat astride territories that generate well over $1 billion dollars in criminal revenue every year. This last installment on the FARC's riches attempts to quantify the lucrative economies they used to control -- ones that Colombia's other criminal actors now wish to possess.

  • Colombia Govt, ELN Sign Ceasefire Amid Growing Dissidence

    ELN fighters

    The government of Colombia and the country's largest remaining guerrilla group have agreed to a bilateral ceasefire, but the rebels' lack of unity may make enforcement difficult.

  • Second-in-Command of Colombia's Urabeños Killed in Security Operation

    Second-in-command of the Urabeños, Roberto Vargas Gutiérrez, alias "Gavilán"

    A top commander of Colombia's most powerful crime group has been killed during a security operation, marking a new level of success for authorities while potentially paving the way for more infighting within the increasingly fragmented organization.

  • The FARC's Riches: Millions Apparently Lost to Dissidents

    Many of the FARC's assets have been lost to deserter groups

    Formerly the Western Hemisphere's largest guerrilla organization, Colombia's FARC has compiled a full inventory of their wealth following half a century of conflict and entrenchment in criminal activities. A front-by-front breakdown offers a remarkably detailed insight into the riches amassed by certain units and, perhaps more disturbingly, how much may be in the hands of increasingly powerful criminalized breakaways. Moreover, the inventory proves that the FARC leadership lacks full control over the group's vast wealth, raising questions over possibly undeclared assets, and making the former guerrillas more vulnerable to judicial prosecution as they shape their political future.

  • The FARC's Riches: List of Assets Fails to Reveal Guerrillas' Total Wealth

    The FARC have probably left many assets undeclared

    Colombia's demobilized FARC have finally revealed their official list of assets -- worth hundreds of millions of dollars -- but the country's top prosecutor has already lambasted the "useless" inventory, which likely comes up far short in its accounting of the former guerrillas' true riches.

  • Colombia to China Sex Trafficking Bust Illustrates Dynamics of Trade

    Colombian sex trafficking network brought victims to China's prostitution market

    Colombian authorities have arrested members of a network that trafficked women from Colombia to China, revealing some of the dynamics of the lucrative transnational sex trade that continues virtually unchecked in Asia's most populous country.

  • Colombia Loan Shark Network Uncovered in Mexico City

    The group reportedly operates in 10 countries in Latin America

    A new report claims that a Colombian loan shark network is operating in more than three quarters of Mexico's states, a further indication that these lucrative schemes are expanding their illicit operations throughout Latin America. 

Investigations

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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...

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.

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...

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...

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.

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.

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...

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.