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Colombia

After more than half a century of civil war and the rise and fall of drug trafficking empires, Colombia has made huge strides in improving its security situation in recent years.

Latest News

Latin American Leaders Voice Security Concerns At United Nations General Assembly

NEWS / 23 SEP 2022

As world leaders met for the United Nations General Assembly, Latin American presidents expressed various concerns about organized crime.

Colombia's President Petro Challenges US Anti-Drug Policy in UN Speech

NEWS / 22 SEP 2022

Colombia's President Gustavo Petro has lambasted decades of US anti-drug policy at the United Nations General Assembly.

Colombia's Risky Bet on Total Peace

NEWS / 13 SEP 2022

President Petro's Total Peace Plan offers high reward but carries equally high risk for criminal groups and for all of Colombia…

Colombia Profile

Criminal Actors

Armed Groups

A deadly mix of drug trafficking groups, active rebel forces, and dissident cells of former guerillas have emerged in Colombia to fill the power vacuum left after the demobilization of the country’s largest guerilla army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC). Fatal conflicts occur regularly throughout the country as various groups seek to control territory and the cocaine supply chain, along with other criminal economies, such as illegal mining and timber trafficking. Local criminal networks, from street gangs to Medellin’s formidable Oficina de Envigado, have long controlled the country’s urban underworlds.

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Personalities

Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, alias 'The Chess Player'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / JUNE 15, 2022

Colombian kingpin, Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, alias “The Chess Player,” was one of the leaders of the Cali Cartel.

Jobanis de Jesús Ávila Villadiego, alias ‘Chiquito Malo’

COLOMBIA / JUNE 17, 2022

Jobanis de Jesús Ávila Villadiego, alias "Chiquito Malo," is the current commander of the Urabeños.

Pablo Escobar

AUC / 30 AUG 2021

Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was the pioneer in industrial-scale cocaine trafficking.

Eliecer Erlinto Chamorro, alias 'Antonio Garcia'

ANTONIO GARCÍA / JUNE 24, 2021

Eliecer Erlinto Chamorro, alias "Antonio Garcia," is the number two commander in Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group.

A Black Cap and A Photo - How John 40 Shook Up FARC Dissidents

COLOMBIA / 14 JUN 2021

A former FARC leader and veteran drug trafficker has sided with ex-commander Iván Márquez, a move that could prove crucial to the future of dissident FARC criminal groups in Colombia…

Ricardo Abel Ayala Orrego, alias 'Cabuyo'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / APRIL 23, 2021

Ricardo Abel Ayala Ortega, alias "Cabuyo," is currently one of Colombia's highest value military targets and operates mainly in the northwestern department of Antioquia.

Luis Agustin Caicedo Velandia, alias 'Don Lucho'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / JULY 16, 2021

For some two decades, Luis Agustin Caicedo Velandia, alias “Don Lucho,” is alleged to have played a significant role in trafficking drugs out of Colombia’s prized Eastern Plains region.

José Manuel Sierra Sabogal, alias 'Zarco Aldinever'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / FEBRUARY 2, 2020

José Manuel Sierra Sabogal, alias "Zarco Aldinever," served with the 51st, 52nd, and 26th fronts, in the departments of Meta, Cundinamarca and Boyacá and became one of the top commanders…

José Vicente Lesmes, alias 'Walter Mendoza'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / JULY 5, 2022

José Vicente Lesmes, alias "Walter Mendoza," was a historic FARC commander and currently a top leader within the Second Marquetalia.

Henry Castellanos Garzón, alias 'Romaña'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / DECEMBER 9, 2021

Henry Castellanos Garzón, alias “Romaña,” was the commander of the 53rd Front of the now-defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) and is currently…

Leider Johani Noscue, alias 'Mayimbú'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / 8 NOV 2019

Leider Noscue, known by his alias “Mayimbú,” is currently one of the highest-value military targets in the department of Cauca, to the west of Colombia.

Seuxis Pausías Hernández, alias 'Jesús Santrich'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / MAY 18, 2021

Seuxis Pausías Hernández Solarte, alias “Jesús Santrich,” was a senior former FARC commander who participated in that guerrilla group's demobilization process before taking up arms again in 2019 to form…

Hernán Darío Velásquez Saldarriaga, alias 'El Paisa'

COLOMBIA / DECEMBER 9, 2021

Hernán Darío Velásquez, alias "El Paisa," was a top former leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Walter Patricio Arizala, alias “Guacho”

COLOMBIA / JANUARY 18, 2019

Walter Patricio Arizala, alias “Guacho,” was one of the most wanted criminals in both Colombia and Ecuador, after military forces made him a priority target. Guacho led the dissident members…

José Bayron Piedrahita Ceballos, alias 'El Árabe,' or the 'Patron de Caucasia'

COLOMBIA MAFIA / MAY 10, 2019

José Bayron Piedrahita Ceballos is presumed to be one of the biggest drug lords in Colombia. During his criminal career spanning more than 20 years, Piedrahita managed to stay out…

Miguel Botache Santillana, alias 'Gentil Duarte'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / MAY 26, 2022

Miguel Botache Santillana, better known as "Gentil Duarte," was Colombia's most wanted criminal until his death in May 2022.

Gustavo Aníbal Giraldo, alias 'Pablito'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / NOVEMBER 11, 2021

Gustavo Aníbal Giraldo Quinchía, alias “Pablito”, is a member of the ELN’s Central Command (Comando Central – COCE). He is one of the ELN’s most belligerent commanders and is critical of the peace…

Géner García Molina, alias 'John 40'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / JUNE 14, 2021

Géner García Molina, better known as "Jhon 40," is the one who connects the cocaine that leaves southern Colombia with its buyers in Venezuela. If there is one example…

Néstor Gregorio Vera Fernández, alias 'Iván Mordisco'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / SEPTEMBER 21, 2022

Nestor Gregorio Vera Fernández, alias “Iván Mordisco,” was one of Colombia’s principal former FARC commanders until his death in July 2022.

Óscar Mauricio Pachón, alias 'Puntilla'

COLOMBIA / DECEMBER 7, 2018

Óscar Mauricio Pachón, alias “Puntilla,” was a drug trafficker who controlled a criminal network in Colombia’s strategic Eastern Plains.

Martin Farfan Diaz Gonzalez, alias 'Pijarbey'

COLOMBIA / 2016-11-07 21:59:53

Martin Farfan Diaz Gonzalez, alias "Pijarbey" was a powerful criminal operative in Colombia's Eastern Plains region.

Marcos de Jesus Figueroa Garcia, alias 'Marquitos'

COLOMBIA / 2016-11-17 14:46:48

Marcos de Jesus Figueroa Garcia, alias "Marquitos," is a Colombian smuggler and was captured by authorities in 2014.

Victor Navarro, alias 'Megateo'

COLOMBIA / 2016-11-17 14:49:02

Victor Navarro, alias "Megateo," was considered the most important drug trafficker in Norte de Santander until his death.

Roberto Vargas Gutiérrez, alias 'Gavilán'

COLOMBIA / 2017-09-01 17:13:50

Roberto Vargas Gutiérrez, alias "Gavilán," transformed himself from Maoist guerrilla to paramilitary fighter to top leader of the Urabeños. He turned himself in to authorities twice, only to return…

Diego Fernando Murillo, alias 'Don Berna'

COLOMBIA / 2016-11-17 14:48:11

Don Berna was the leader of Oficina de Envigado, a criminal group in Medellin, which grew after the fall of Pablo Escobar in Colombia.

Henry de Jesús López, alias 'Mi Sangre'

AUC / 2017-03-09 22:14:34

Medellin native Henry de Jesus Lopez, alias "Mi Sangre," had a prolific criminal career that saw him become a key number of several criminal organizations in Colombia.

Jose Eberto Lopez Montero, alias 'Caracho'

CARACHO / 2017-03-09 22:17:24

Jose Eberto Lopez Montero, alias "Caracho," is a former soldier who was recruited into the ranks of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), fighting for the paramilitary…

Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, alias 'Timochenko'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / JANUARY 28, 2020

Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, alias "Timochenko," is only the third commander-in-chief in the FARC's nearly 50-year history. Of the three, Timochenko has the most mysterious past. …

Angel de Jesus Pacheco Chanci, alias 'Sebastian'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / 2017-03-09 23:50:47

Angel de Jesus Pacheco Chanci, alias "Sebastian," is generally recognized as being responsible for a great deal of the mayhem that afflicted northeast Antioquia, Colombia throughout 2009…

Rafael Alvarez Piñeda, alias 'Chepe'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / 2016-11-07 21:08:28

A member of Colombia’s AUC, Rafael Alvarez Piñeda, alias "Chepe," demobilized in 2006, going on to lead the paramilitary successor group the Paisas, but later switched sides…

Cesar Augusto Torres Lujan, alias 'Mono Vides'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / 2017-03-09 23:52:15

A former fighter in the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), Cesar Augusto Torres Lujan, alias "Mono Vides," was a commander for the Paisas in Antioquia province. He died…

Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias 'Otoniel'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / MAY 4, 2022

Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias “Otoniel,” is the head of Colombia’s most powerful criminal group, the Urabeños, and the country’s most wanted man. But his grip on power is slipping as…

Juan de Dios Úsuga, alias 'Giovanni'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / 2017-03-09 23:54:35

Juan de Dios Usuga, alias "Giovanni," headed the Urabeños' military wing while the group was under the command of Daniel Rendon Herrera, alias "Don Mario."…

Victor Julio Suarez Rojas, alias 'Mono Jojoy'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / 2017-03-10 00:05:16

Until his death in September 2010, Victor Julio Suarez Rojas, alias "Mono Jojoy," was the top military commander of Colombian rebel group the FARC, head of the feared Eastern Bloc and…

Pedro Oliverio Guerrero, alias 'Cuchillo'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / 2017-03-10 00:10:07

Pedro Oliverio Guerrero, alias "Cuchillo," demobilized with the paramilitaries before forming successor group the Popular Revolutionary Anti-Terrorist Army of Colombia (ERPAC), which bought drugs from the guerrillas and controlled large…

Maximiliano Bonilla Orozco, alias 'Valenciano'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / 2016-11-07 22:08:37

Maximiliano Bonilla Orozco, alias "Valenciano," was a leader in the Colombian criminal organization Oficina de Envigado, and forged ties with international trafficking organizations such as the Zetas in Mexico. He…

Luciano Marín Arango, alias 'Iván Márquez'

COLOMBIA / JULY 11, 2022

Luciano Marin Arango, alias “Iván Márquez,” was a senior member of the FARC Secretariat and founded the Second Marquetalia.

Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista, alias 'Gabino'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / MAY 19, 2020

Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista, alias "Gabino," was a peasant recruit who rose to become the commander in chief and political leader of Colombia guerrilla group the National Liberation Army (Ejército de…

Erickson Vargas Cardenas, alias 'Sebastian' (Oficina)

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / 2016-11-07 22:12:46

Erickson Vargas Cardenas, alias "Sebastian," is a former hitman turned leader of the feared Oficina de Envigado organization that operates in and around Medellin, Colombia. He was captured by Colombian…

Daniel Barrera Barrera, alias 'El Loco'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / MAY 5, 2020

Daniel Barrera Barrera, alias "El Loco," was the closest thing Colombia has to a modern Pablo Escobar. Until his capture in 2012, he used a vast network of collaborators, from former…

Diego Perez Henao, alias 'Diego Rastrojo'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / 2016-11-07 22:02:10

Diego Perez Henao, alias "Diego Rastrojo," was the military head of the Rastrojos, a criminal syndicate whose reach stretches across Colombia, and into Ecuador and…

Luis E. Calle Serna

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / 2017-02-16 22:07:27

Luis Enrique Calle Serna was a leader in the feared and ambitious Rastrojos criminal organization in Colombia. He surrendered to US authorities in Panama on October 2, 2012, and was sentenced…

Guillermo Leon Saenz Vargas, alias 'Alfonso Cano'

ALFONSO CANO / 2017-03-10 03:22:31

Guillermo Leon Saenz Vargas, alias Alfonso Cano, was the supreme commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the hemisphere's oldest and deadliest insurgency. He was killed on November 4, 2011.

Javier Antonio Calle Serna, alias 'Comba'

COLOMBIA PERSONALITIES / 2017-03-10 03:35:08

Javier Antonio Calle Serna, alias “Comba,” was the top leader of the Rastrojos, a group of former paramilitary hitmen turned drug trafficking organization in Colombia. He…

News

AUC / 9 SEP 2022

Hernán Giraldo, former paramilitary commander of Colombia’s AUC has been charged with sexually abusing minors.

COLOMBIA / 6 SEP 2022

Will the killing of seven police officers allegedly by ex-FARC Mafia derail Gustavo Petro's 'Total Peace' plan?…

BRAZIL / 25 AUG 2022

Portugal has seized a blizzard of cocaine in recent months, underscoring the country's role as a major drug hub.

COCA / 22 AUG 2022

Narco ambulances in Colombia aren't new, but a recent rash of discoveries suggests that they are back in vogue with drug trafficking gangs.

COLOMBIA / 16 AUG 2022

The ELN and Urabeños are once again battling for control of Bolívar, a northern department of Colombia.

COLOMBIA / 11 AUG 2022

Colombia's last remaining guerrilla group may be the linchpin to future negotiations the Colombian government is expected to enter into with a number of armed actors as part of a…

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