FARC negotiating team in Havana

The Sinaloa Cartel has been buying up FARC drug trafficking franchises as the rebels look to divest themselves of their drug assets, according to one report, suggesting the guerrillas are serious about demobilization, but sparking concerns over who will replace them.

Mid-level commanders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the departments of Meta and Caqueta are selling off their interests in the drug trade in anticipation of success of peace negotiations currently taking place in Havana, and subsequent demobilization, according to an anonymous official source cited by El Tiempo.

The sale has provided an opening for Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel, which has been looking to expand its involvement in the production stage of cocaine trafficking, according to an intelligence agent consulted by El Tiempo.

The cartel's expansion into Colombia has been at least partially provoked by the declining quality of product reaching Mexico, which is a result of law enforcement successes against trafficking groups in Colombia, said the source.

Intelligence reports suggest that the Sinaloans are currently expanding throughout Colombia, controlling coca plantations and cocaine processing labs near the border with Ecuador, and operating in Antioquia and Cordoba provinces in the north and in Norte de Santander, which borders Venezuela.

InSight Crime Analysis

If accurate, the report that FARC members are selling off franchises would suggest that not only are the rebels serious about the peace negotiations but also that they expect them to succeed. However, it also raises the critical question of who would replace them in the drug trafficking chain if they demobilized.

It was never realistic to expect the FARC to simply walk away from their lucrative interests in the drug trade, despite the lofty rhetoric that has accompanied the peace talks, and this latest news offers a glimpse of how they may try to cash in on their demobilization. If the process expands into a nationwide criminal auction, it could represent a unique opportunity for trafficking groups looking to rapidly increase their profits and status in the drug trade.

The idea that the Sinaloa Cartel is trying to take advantage of this is a worrying sign, not only because it would confirm the cartel's reach into Colombia, but also because of the conflicts it might unleash. The Sinaloa Cartel is known to have close ties to the once powerful but now fragmented Rastrojos, and its increased presence could bring it into conflict with the Urabeños, the Rastrojos' main rivals. The Urabeños are currently aggressively expanding throughout Colombia and are believed to be suppliers for the Sinaloa Cartel's enemies in the Zetas.

Investigations

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

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

While there is no doubt that the FARC have only a tenuous control over some of their more remote fronts, there is no evidence of any overt dissident faction within the movement at the moment.

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

On May 27, 1964 up to one thousand Colombian soldiers, backed by fighter planes and helicopters, launched an assault against less than fifty guerrillas in the tiny community of Marquetalia. The aim of the operation was to stamp out once and for all the communist threat in...

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

The United States -- which through its antinarcotics, judicial and police attaches was very familiar with the routes used for smuggling, and especially those used for people trafficking and understood that those traffickers are often one and the same -- greeted the new government of Elias Antonio...

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 leader Carlos Lechuga Mojica, alias "El Viejo Lin," is one of the most prominent spokesmen for El Salvador's gang truce. InSight Crime co-director Steven Dudley spoke with Mojica in Cojutepeque prison in October 2012 about how the maras view the controversial peace process, which has...

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

When considering the possibilities that the FARC may break apart, the Ivan Rios Bloc is a helpful case study because it is perhaps the weakest of the FARC's divisions in terms of command and control, and therefore runs the highest risk of fragmentation and criminalization.

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

In October 2012, the US Treasury Department designated the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) as a transnational criminal organization (TCO). While this assertion seems unfounded, there is one case that illustrates just why the US government is worried about the future.

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

If we are to believe the Colombian government, the question is not if, but rather when, an end to 50 years of civil conflict will be reached. Yet the promise of President Juan Manuel Santos that peace can be achieved before the end of 2014 is simply...

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

Ricardo Mauricio Menesses Orellana liked horses, and the Pasaquina rodeo was a great opportunity to enjoy a party. He was joined at the event -- which was taking place in the heart of territory controlled by El Salvador's most powerful drug transport group, the Perrones -- by the...

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

In August 2002, the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) greeted Colombia's new president with a mortar attack that killed 14 people during his inauguration. The attack was intended as a warning to the fiercely anti-FARC newcomer. But it became the opening salvo of...