Guerrilla Leader Exemplifies Possible Criminalization of Colombia’s FARC

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A guerrilla commander that operates along Colombia’s southern border and is suspected of large-scale drug trafficking serves as a good example of the type of FARC elements most at risk of criminalization in a post-conflict scenario.

Operating in Colombia’s southwestern department of Nariño, the Revolutinary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) commander, known only as “Rambo,” runs the rebel army’s “Daniel Aldana” mobile column. According to El Tiempo, this column is one of the FARC’s most active, and is also responsible for helping finance the FARC’s insurgency. Drug trafficking is reportedly the principal source of income, but extortion and illegal mining also provide the mobile column with illicit revenue streams.

US and Colombian authorities consider Rambo to be the biggest drug trafficker in Nariño, where he allegedly controls coca cultivation, cocaine processing laboratories, and trafficking routes. He is thought to be capable of moving hundreds of tons of cocaine through Colombia’s Pacific coast. 

According to El Tiempo, Colombian state intelligence agencies assert Rambo has held meetings with representatives of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel near the Ecuadorian border. In 2014, authorities in Nariño seized a private plane carrying a 500-kilo cocaine shipment that Rambo had allegedly coordinated for the Sinaloa Cartel.

InSight Crime Analysis

Due to his extensive involvement in the drug trade, Rambo embodies the class of insurgents most likely to criminalize should the FARC sign a peace agreement with the government. As previously documented by InSight Crime, it is almost inevitable that some FARC elements will continue their participation in criminal activity after demobilization. The guerrilla factions most deeply involved in drug trafficking are also many of the most vulnerable to criminalization, as it would be easiest for them to transition into full-time criminal actors. 

SEE ALSO: FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

There are increasing signs that some guerrillas may criminalize even before a peace deal with the government is struck. In July, authorities captured a FARC finance chief that allegedly doubled as the head of a narco-paramilitary gang. Earlier this month, uncovered FARC email correspondence reportedly revealed a drug trafficking alliance between the rebel group and criminal organization the Urabeños.

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