The FARC have even banned water traffic in Choco province

The Colombian government has sent nearly 500 extra troops to the Pacific province of Choco, where transit and business have been paralyzed by FARC rebels placing a ban on movement on the main roads and rivers.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have threatened to attack anyone using the main roads or waterways in Choco, in an "armed strike" that started on November 8 and is set to run until November 17.

Following a November 13 emergency meeting of the heads of the armed forces and police in Choco, the government decided to send 120 soldiers and 360 navy personnel to the province. It also drastically raised the reward for information leading to the capture of alias "Chaverra" -- one of the leaders of the FARC's 34th Front -- from some $5,000 to $50,000, according to Caracol Radio.

InSight Crime Analysis

Local government officials also told Caracol Radio that the strike was backed by the Rastrojos gang, which is also active in the region. Though the FARC and the Rastrojos have had dealings with each other in Colombia's southwest, it is unlikely that this would extend to carrying out joint military actions. A recent InSight Crime trip to the region found no evidence of an "alliance" between the two groups, which were fighting with each other in some places even as they collaborated on cocaine shipments in others.

Choco is a highly strategic region for the FARC and new-generation drug gangs like the Rastrojos because it is an exit point for shipping illicit drugs via the Pacific. The FARC has launched a number of armed strikes in the province, most recently in March this year. In May 2011, the rebels detained 200 individuals in Choco during another such strike.

Despite the fact that peace talks with the government are currently underway, the FARC has continued its campaign of attacks in many areas of the country, including the bombing of a police station in Cauca province on November 11, which wounded 25 and has been attributed to the rebels. The group offered a ceasefire to the government while talks took place, but it was refused.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

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. 

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

In the photograph, they are both smiling. In the foreground, on the left hand side, a man in a short-sleeved buttoned white shirt, jeans and a metal watch, holds a bottle of water in his right hand. He laughs heartily. He is Herbert Saca. On the right...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...