Almost 5,000 people are members of criminal gangs in Colombia, according to a recent police report on gang activity in the country.
According to the report, it is estimated that criminal gangs in Colombia have a combined membership of 4,980 people, a figure almost 700 higher that was estimated in January, in a previous police report into gang activity.
The government has labeled these gangs BACRIM, short for “bandas criminales emergentes,” or emerging criminal groups.
Of the close to 5,000 gang members, the police report stated that around half are believed to form part of the core structure of the gangs, and are heavily armed, while the other half play support roles, performing tasks such as transporting drugs and collecting extortion money.
The numbers quoted by the police report seem to run contrary to the claims of Colombian bishop Monsignor Julio Cesar Vidal Ortiz, who recently said that, to his knowledge, around 5,000 members of the BACRIM are interested in demobilizing.
As InSight Crime reported earlier this year, the head of the Colombian National Police, General Oscar Naranjo, has called the BACRIMs the biggest threat to national security in the country.