Police and analysts believe that the Urabeños gang is offering automatic weapons to groups that support its bid to take control of Medellin’s criminal underworld, according to a report in El Tiempo.
The Urabeños may be equipping street gangs, known as “combos,” with heavy firepower in Colombia’s second city. According to Medellin crime analyst Fernando Quijano, the group offers combo leaders money and weapons, as well as a share in illicit profits, in exchange for their support. “They offer every combo head around 35 million pesos ($19,000), 60 latest-generation rifles and a 7 percent share of profits from micro-trafficking and extortion,” Quijano told El Tiempo.
Juan Camilo Naranjo Martinez, alias “Gomelo,” a former member of Medellin’s Oficina de Envigado who sparked a violent gang battle when he switched allegiance and began working with the Urabeños earlier this year, may have been rewarded for his betrayal with an impressive arsenal. Police intelligence sources told the newspaper that the Urabeños provided Gomelo with seven military-grade assault rifles. These weapons were likely used in the violent shootout which preceded his capture on November 4, and left three police officers and another person dead.
InSight Crime Analysis
Reports of the Urabeños supplying weaponry to Medellin criminal gangs illustrate the group’s advantage in its ongoing battle to take control of the city. Its nationwide structure and access to massive profits from the drug trade could help put the Urabeños ahead of its rivals in the Oficina, which is plagued by internal divisions.
As InSight Crime has pointed out, the group’s resources also mean that it can afford to have many people on its payroll, which could pose a risk to Medellin’s notoriously corruptible government institutions should the Urabeños eventually establish criminal hegemony there.