Authorities in Colombia have seized the first set of assets allegedly linked to a dissident ex-FARC mafia network, providing further insight into the economic standing of these dissident groups.
Colombian authorities seized assets ranging from a supermarket to commercial properties allegedly belonging to the 28th Front dissidence of the now largely demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC). The assets were located in the municipality of Paz de Ariporo in Casanare department, the Attorney General’s Office announced in a September 30 press release.
Carlos Sánchez Meza, alias “Efrén,” and other leaders of the dissidence of the 28th Front — formerly of the FARC’s wealthy Eastern Bloc — allegedly put the properties in the names of third parties to avoid detection from authorities in Paz de Ariporo. The seizure was part of an investigation into drug trafficking, extortion and other criminal activities.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Ex-FARC Mafia
Among the nine properties seized were the La Bonanza supermarket valued at 1.5 billion pesos (around $500,000), six commercial properties within the town of Paz de Ariporo and two other rural plots of land. The total value of the properties exceeded 4 billion pesos (around $1.3 million), according to authorities.
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These significant seizures offer some insight into the economic power of emergent ex-FARC mafia networks.
Dissident guerrilla networks have garnered particular strength in the southern and eastern regions of Colombia, relying on million-dollar criminal economies such as drug trafficking and illegal mining to fund themselves.
While the 28th Front’s assets may have been new acquisitions, dissidents in that region have also funded themselves with leftovers from the FARC’s historic insurgency. As InSight Crime previously detailed in a three-part series after the FARC declared their assets to the Colombian government in 2017, millions were apparently lost to dissident rebels who deserted the peace process. Among the assets that fell into the hands of dissidents were properties in the prized Eastern Plains region — a cocaine hub once controlled by the FARC’s Eastern Bloc — cattle worth tens of thousands of dollars, and stockpiles of weapons.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of FARC Peace
The use of supermarkets was one of many ways in which the FARC insurgency laundered its criminal proceeds. Indeed, in February this year, authorities seized 60 supermarkets and other assets tied to the FARC guerrilla group’s Eastern Bloc, and which had not been declared to the government.
*This article was written with assistance from InSight Crime’s Colombian Organized Crime Observatory.