Urabeños

The Urabeños, also known as the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces, are one of the most ambitious, ruthless and aggressively expansionist of Colombia's drug trafficking organizations. One of a number of groups made up of former mid-level paramilitary leaders, they have caused homicide rates to skyrocket wherever they have appeared.

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Latest News

COCAINE / 9 FEB 2021

On April 30, 1984, the Mercedes taking Colombian Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara Bonilla home after work was strafed with machine…

COLOMBIA / 19 JAN 2021

A new alliance between two of Colombia's main criminal groups is seeking to contest the ELN's control of lucrative criminal…

COCAINE / 10 DEC 2020

The killing of an Indigenous leader in Bahia Solano, on Colombia’s Pacific Coast, adds to mounting violence that has…

COLOMBIA / 20 OCT 2020

An army official has touted significant progress in clearing landmines in Colombia, but their expanded use by criminal groups has…

COCAINE / 25 SEP 2020

Authorities in Panama’s northwestern province of Bocas del Toro have intercepted a string of vessels carrying large amounts of…

COCAINE / 8 SEP 2020

Reports that the Urabeños are re-activating an old drug trafficking route in Montes de María, Colombia, may suggest that it…

Key Actors

Marcos de Jesus Figueroa Garcia, alias ‘Marquitos’

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

Marcos de Jesus Figueroa Garcia, alias "Marquitos," is a powerful underworld figure in Colombia's northeast provinces of La Guajira and Cesar, whose reach extends deep into the region's political establishment.

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…

Henry de Jesús López, alias ‘Mi Sangre’

COLOMBIA / 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.

Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias ‘Otoniel’

COLOMBIA / MARCH 14, 2018

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 / 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."…

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About InSight Crime

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Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

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4 FEB 2021

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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. …