Colombia’s security forces captured 34 members of what the police called “one of the biggest drug trafficking organizations” in the country and linked it to rebels of the FARC, as well as the vaunted neo-paramilitary organization the Urabeños.
The security forces’ operation was simultaneously carried out in the provinces of Cauca, Antioquia, Cordoba, Santander, and La Guajira, and also resulted in the seizure of 704 kilos and 1.5 tons of marijuana.
Contacted by InSight Crime, the police refused to identify the group saying it does not use a name in order to avoid detection by law enforcement.
The police did, however, say the organization had a working relationship with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Urabeños, paying a fee in exchange for receiving protection while transporting cocaine through territory controlled by the two most formidable underworld operators in the country.
To be sure, on September 21, FARC leaders rejected government claims that the rebel group collaborated with the Urabeños in the killing of seven police officers in the department of Cauca on September 16, reported El Espectador. On the same day, in response to an article in InSight Crime, the FARC told InSight Crime on Twitter that they had no alliances to “structures of state terror” like the Urabeños.
— FARC-EP in English (@FARC_EPeace) September 21, 2014
InSight Crime Analysis
As peace talks between the rebel army and the government continue in Cuba, it is important for the FARC that they are not implicated in ties to groups such as the Urabeños. Such connections would likely stall agreements between the two sides. However, recent developments suggest a growing link between the two organizations.
On September 16, President Juan Manuel Santos and other top level government officials have alleged that the attack on police officers was a joint offensive between the FARC and the Urabeños. Until now, the only documented interaction between the criminal groups has been confined to the drug trade.
If the goverment allegations are true, this may suggest that certain elements of the FARC are considering joining existing criminal networks such as the Urabeños in order to continue criminal activities once the peace process is completed.