Peru, Colombia Strengthen Ties Against Organized Crime

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    The defense ministers of Peru and Colombia have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in the fight against organized crime along their shared border.

    The agreement will target drug trafficking, money laundering, smuggling, illegal mining and logging, and the smuggling of native species, according to the EFE news agency. The ministers, Alberto Otarola of Peru and Juan Carlos Pinzon of Colombia, also said education and health programs would target the vulnerable populations of the border region.

    The AP reports that a more detailed agreement will be reached at a conference in March, which Brazilian delegates will also attend.

    In addition, an Andina report highlighted the two countries’ interest in joint development of their defense industries, including the possibility of developing a joint Peruvian-Colombian river patrol boat. Otarola and Pinzon also discussed heightening collaboration with other countries on regional security issues. In May 2011 the two signed a border security agreement.

    InSight Crime Analysis

    This agreement seems to be targeted against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who operate in the border region between Peru and Colombia. The comprehensive nature of the plans discussed could be a response to the changing tactics of the FARC, who have moved to Colombia’s border regions, and across into neigboring countries, and have diversified their sources of income.

    This announcement fits in with a bigger regional picture of military integration to fight organized crime. Many South American countries have paired up in the past year with bilateral security initiatives. In the latest example, Venezuela and Brazil confirmed January 25 that their security forces would cooperate against organized crime.

    The issue of organized crime could also be used to build confidence between the security forces of countries with complicated relationships. For example, despite tensions over a 2008 Colombian raid against FARC guerillas on Ecuadorian soil, those two countries have also signed a bilateral security agreement targeting the group.

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