Two US intelligence officers have reportedly told a Mexican newspaper members of the Jalisco Cartel were trained by Colombian rebels, which if true could have significant implications on the guerrillas’ potential for criminalization should a peace agreement be signed.
The unidentified government officials reportedly told Proceso US intelligence reports indicate in recent months the FARC have trained Mexico’s Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG, for its Spanish acronym) and their close ally, Los Cuinis, in remote areas of the Colombian jungle.
“The reports we obtained in Colombia show various bosses of the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation and Los Cuinis were trained by the FARC in assault tactics [to be used against] members of the military,” one official is quoted as saying.
Another intelligence official reportedly stated the number of cartel members instructed by the FARC amounts to “a few dozen, no more than 50 individuals, perhaps.”
These reports are timely considering the CJNG recently shot down a military helicopter using a rocket-propelled grenade launcher (RPG), an attack that killed eight Mexican soldiers and police officers.
InSight Crime Analysis
If the reports of FARC rebels training Mexican cartels are true, it is unlikely these actions were sanctioned by the guerrilla group’s central command, known as the Secretariat. However, it would not be unprecedented for a member of the Secretariat to establish connections with a Mexican drug cartel. Before his death in 2010, the FARC’s top military commander, Victor Julio Suarez Rojas, alias “Mono Jojoy,” reportedly ordered a FARC doctor to make contacts with Mexico’s Tijuana Cartel in 2000. Still, examples of FARC leadership agreeing to work with Mexican cartels are rare and especially unlikely under Colombia’s current political climate.
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For over two years the FARC have been engaged in peace talks with the Colombian government, and the Secretariat is unlikely to approve any contacts with Mexican cartels, an action which could antagonize the state and the international community. The peace process suffered a major setback following the killing of 11 soldiers by a FARC mobile column in April, and the rebel’s central command would surely face yet more criticism if it were found to have sanctioned the trianing of Mexican drug cartels.
This raises the possibility that low-level FARC commanders have been organizing training sessions for the CJNG without the consent of the Secretariat. This would be a concerning development, given the potential criminalization of some FARC units in a post-conflict environment. In one possible scenario, rogue FARC elements would work directly with Mexican cartels, cutting out the middleman — currently Colombia’s neo-paramilitary groups, known as the BACRIM — in the regional cocaine trade, thereby generating higher profits for both the guerrillas and the cartels.