Five Colombian soldiers were caught transporting a shipment of cocaine from Medellin to the Caribbean coast, which could indicate that the Urabeños or Oficina de Envigado gangs are moving to recruit members of the military into their ranks.
On July 4, five Colombian soldiers were captured transporting 603 kilos of cocaine in a truck in the north of Antioquia province (see map, above). The group included a lieutenant, a sergeant and three soldiers from the 4th Brigade, based in the central Colombian city of Medellin, as well as four civilians.
It is not yet clear which criminal organization the soldiers were working for. El Tiempo reported that, while the official investigation pointed to the Medellin mafia known as the Oficina de Envigado, authorities claimed that one of the civilians arrested was a member of the Urabeños gang.
The counterintelligence unit of the Colombian army had tracked the soldiers for six months prior to the drug bust.
InSight Crime Analysis
The capture of the soldiers comes soon after retired Colombian police General Mauricio Santoyo was accused by the US of cooperating with drug traffickers, highlighting the security forces’ collaboration with organized crime.
It is possible that the soldiers were working with either the Oficina de Envigado or the Urabeños, who are increasing their presence in Medellin. While this would be one of the first known incidents of the criminal group recruiting soldiers, an Urabeños cell could have managed to get members of the 4th Brigade to help facilitate cocaine shipments to Central America.
Although the Oficina de Envigado operates out of Medellin, it is known for recruiting police officers, not soldiers, to fill its ranks. Nonetheless, it is plausible that the group has turned to recruiting military officers as well.
It is unlikely, however, that the two criminal groups are working together, since they are currently fighting for control of Medellin.