FARC Smuggle Explosives into Cities via Ecuador Border: Police

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Colombian police have identified routes along the Ecuadorean border they say are used by the FARC to smuggle high-grade explosives into major Colombian cities.

According to La Hora, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is smuggling the military-grade explosive pentolite from Ecuador into the Colombian border city of Ipiales, from where it is moved northwards to bigger cities like Popayan, Cali, and Bogota. The shipments are hidden in parcels and carried by courier services, which have been placed under surveillance by the authorities. Colombian law enforcement has seized six shipments of pentolite in the past three months, police said.

The FARC often use pentolite for making bombs and carrying out urban attacks. Several explosive devices discovered near police stations in Bogota in the past week have contained pentolite. The substance was used in the bomb attack against former Interior Minister Fernando Londoño on May 15. On Friday, a presumed member of the FARC was killed in Bogota when the pentolite device he was building exploded, injuring three others.

InSight Crime Analysis

Unsurprisingly, the routes used by the FARC to move explosives appear to overlap with the 26 unsanctioned border crossings identified by the Ecuadorean Defense Ministry last week. Several of these illegal border crossings are only a few kilometers from Ipiales, which the Colombian national police indicate is a key transshipment point for explosives.

These announcements are likely the product of a meeting that took place between Ecuadorean and Colombian officials in Bogota in March, when both countries agreed to locate and identify illegal frontier crossings by May. Such cooperation to combat criminal organizations has been on the rise since relations between the Andean countries improved following Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ inauguration.

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