HomeColombiaLibertadores del Vichada
COLOMBIA

Libertadores del Vichada

COLOMBIA / LATEST UPDATE 2015-11-17 23:23:31 EN

The Libertadores del Vichada are a splinter group of the Popular Revolutionary Anti-Terrorist Army of Colombia (ERPAC) based in Colombia’s Eastern Plains region. The criminal organization oversees cocaine processing laboratories, coca cultivation and drug trafficking routes, as well as a network of hitmen. Aided by an alliance with powerful Urabeños criminal syndicate, the group has amassed a substantial drug empire.

History

The Libertadores del Vichada are one of two main splinter groups that formed following the dissolution of the ERPAC, which itself emerged in the wake of the demobilization of paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) in the mid-2000s. Initially, the ERPAC was led by Pedro Oliveiro Guerrero, alias “Cuchillo,” and until his death in 2010, it controlled a significant portion of the drug trade in the Eastern Plains region.

A year after Cuchillo’s death, his successor, Jose Eberto Lopez Montero, alias “Caracho,” turned himself in with some 260 ERPAC fighters. By February 2012, the remaining ERPAC members had formed into two main splinter groups, the Libertadores del Vichada and the Meta Bloc, numbering around 560 fighters in total (pdf).

The Libertadores del Vichada were briefly led by Albert Narvaez Mejia, alias “Careto,” but were then taken over by Martin Farfan Diaz Gonzalez, alias “Pijarbey”  Cuchillo’s former military leader and second-in-command – following his release from prison.

Under Pijarbey’s leadership, the group fought against the Meta Bloc for control of ERPAC’s coca crops, cocaine laboratories, and trafficking routes to Venezuela. The Libertadores del Vichada allied themselves with the Urabeños, while the Meta Bloc had the support of powerful drug lord Daniel Barrera, alias “El Loco.” Both Barrera and Meta Bloc leader Rubber Antonio Navarro Caicedo, alias “Flaco Fredy,” were captured in September 2012, positioning the Libertadores del Vichada to take over ERPAC’s former territories.

With the challenge from the Meta Bloc fading, the Libertadores del Vichada grew quickly, increasing from 143 fighters to an estimated 250 by March 2014. In addition to drug trafficking operations in the Eastern Plains region, the Libertadores del Vichada have sent emissaries to Colombia’s Amazon region to establish a drug trafficking route. Nine members of the group were captured in the region in May 2014, however, and it remains unclear whether the Libertadores still have drug trafficking operations in the area.

The Libertadores del Vichada have also been linked to extortion and to a fuel theft network dismantled in July 2014. The network allegedly infiltrated transnational oil company Pacific Rubiales and stole up to 200 gallons a day for use in Pijarbey’s cocaine laboratories.

Although the group appears to be expanding its reach, it also suffered a series of blows in 2013 and 2014, with the captures of numerous high ranking members.

Leadership

Since the death of Martín Farfán Díaz Gonzales, alias “Pijarbey” in 2015, and his second-in-command, alias “Movil 7,” in 2017, the group has constantly changed leadership as a result of the actions of public security forces, as has happened with aliases “Tigre,” “Caratejo,” “Wilmar,” “Perla” y “El Mexicano.”

In the first half of 2020, two of the highest ranking leaders were arrested, leaving Los Libertadores without a single defined leader. 

Geography

The main area of operation for the Libertadores is the region known as the Eastern Plains, which incorporates the provinces of Meta, Vichada, and Guaviare. The group also appears to have expanded its reach into the Amazon region and the departments of Casanare and Atlántico, particularly in Barranquilla.

Allies and Enemies

The Libertadores are allied with the Urabeños, and may also have ties to the Oficina de Envigado, a Medellin-based drug network. Authorities began to investigate this relationship after key Oficina operative, alias “Cesarin,” sought refuge in the Libertadores’ territory.

The panorama of the Eastern Plains, particularly on the Venezuelan border, have led to the group establishing alliances with the ex-FARC mafia and some smaller structures within the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN), with regard to the coordination of criminal activity and the provision of certain services, such as security or enforcing justice in the territories they control.

The Libertadores’ main enemies are rival ERAPC splinter groups, the Meta Bloc, and other smaller criminal structures.

Prospects

The Libertadores del Vichada control a lucrative drug empire, including profitable trafficking routes to Venezuela, which has allowed their leaders to form alliances with other criminal groups from around the region in regards to drug shipments. While Pijarbey’s apprehension slowed the group’s expansion into new territories, particularly considering the challenge of establishing a lasting leader, the group’s advantages in the Eastern Plains have been a determining factor in its actions and maintenance of criminal alliances. 

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

ALFONSO CANO / 8 DEC 2010

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said Wednesday that they may free five hostages, including three members of the…

COLOMBIA / 11 SEP 2012

The story of an Ecuadorean who was held captive by Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla army for two years sheds light on…

COLOMBIA / 20 JUN 2014

Authorities in the United States have marked the destruction of the Cali Cartel's business empire by removing economic sanctions against over…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…