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

COLOMBIA / 8 APR 2021

Children serve in a wide range of roles in criminal organizations: errand boy, landmine builder, frontline combatant and assassin. In…

COCAINE / 1 APR 2021

As in the darkest days of Colombia's civil conflict, armed groups across the country continue to enlist and exploit teenage…

COLOMBIA / 16 MAR 2021

A leader of what was once Colombia's largest guerrilla organization has announced the revival of one of its most formidable…

COLOMBIA / 10 MAR 2021

The central Colombian department of Antioquia has been the scene of four massacres over the first two months of 2021,…

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…

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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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…