HomeNewsAnalysisEx-FARC Mafia Kill Colombia Indigenous Amid Illicit Crop Conflicts
ANALYSIS

Ex-FARC Mafia Kill Colombia Indigenous Amid Illicit Crop Conflicts

COLOMBIA / 7 NOV 2019 BY LARA LOAIZA EN

FARC dissidents massacred a group of indigenous guards protecting a reserve in Colombia's southwestern department of Cauca, adding to the killings of indigenous and community leaders who are increasingly coming into conflict with ex-FARC Mafia groups that control the illicit crops and trafficking routes in the region.

On October 29, the dissident Dagoberto Ramos Mobile Column, formerly of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC), attacked a group of indigenous guards protecting the reserve of Tacueyó in the municipality of Toribío, Cauca. Five people died in the assault, including the governor of Tacueyó, Cristina Bautista.

According to witnesses, the dissidents also attacked ambulances and community members who came to help the victims.

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profile

Within 48 hours, four other people were found dead after another massacre in Corinto, Cauca. The victims were members of a team of engineers and topographers who were carrying out a survey of the area.

Faced with the national unrest generated by both events, President Iván Duque announced that he would strengthen the military presence in the area, with 2,500 members of the army's FUDRA 4 rapid deployment force. They will join more than 8,000 troops already present in Cauca.

However, several indigenous leaders have rejected Duque's plan for more boots on the ground, stating that deep structural changes are needed to reduce violence in Cauca.

InSight Crime Analysis

The body count is rising in Cauca as the fight for control of drug trafficking intensifies, especially as ex-FARC Mafia groups clash with indigenous communities and security forces.

Authorities say that the Dagoberto Ramos Mobile Column is responsible for the October 29 massacre. It is a break away group from the FARC's 6th Front, which long had its power base in northern Cauca prior to the 2016 peace agreement.

Currently, this column operates in the municipalities of Caloto, Corinto, Santander de Quilichao and Toribío, but also has a presence in the departments of Huila and Tolima, two strategic regions that connect Colombia's Pacific coast to the center of the country.

According to the Attorney General's Office, the Tacueyó massacre was ordered by Gerardo Ignacio Herrera, alias “Barbas,” who leads the group along with Fernando Israel Méndez Quitumbo, alias “El Indio.” Both men are among the most wanted criminals in Cauca.

Th Dagoberto Ramos column also has an alliance with Leider Johani Noscue, alias “Mayimbú," and his Jaime Martínez Mobile Column. The latter group is another offshoot of the 6th Front, operating in northern Cauca and in the south of Valle del Cauca. This partnership enables the columns to control of drug trafficking routes.

SEE ALSO: Why Are Social Leaders Dying in Colombia's Cauca

In response to increasing presence of ex-FARC mafia in the region, the indigenous guard has increasingly confronted these two dissident groups, including destroying quantities of marijuana and coca, acts that have contributed to the rising violence.

To further hinder criminal activity around their ancestral lands, indigenous communities have collaborated with security forces and prosecutors to seize drug shipments, capture members of dissident groups and restrict the cultivation of coca.

Eduar Dagua Calix, senior advisor to the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, told Semana that collaboration with authorities happened regularly in order to track and stop illegal shipments from entering or exiting reserves.

In July, the army arrested Barbas and El Indio, the two dissident leaders, in the village of El Palo, a rural area of ​​the municipality of Caloto. At that time, the indigenous guard claimed the dissidents had been involved in several cases of violence against their community. But it is unclear what happened following the arrests, and both men are now free.

As part of a broader strategy against coca and marijuana cultivation, the Attorney General's Office ordered in June for power to be cut to four municipalities in Cauca known to harbor drug processing laboratories and marijuana farms: Miranda, Corinto, Toribío and Caloto. The power cuts were supported by local community leaders, including mayors and indigenous governors.

The municipalities of Miranda, Corinto and Toribío are known as the “Golden Triangle” of Cauca due to the profits generated from growing a potent and coveted strain of marijuana dubbed "creepy." Control of the region also extends to the Naya River, which is used to bring drugs from Colombia's central mountain range to the Pacific coast.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

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.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 29 SEP 2014

Emails from computers seized by Colombia's security forces have revealed a massive FARC extortion plan targeting the mining and petroleum…

ARGENTINA / 31 DEC 2013

We can already identify some of the trends that are likely to mark the evolution of organized crime in 2014.

COLOMBIA / 11 OCT 2016

Colombia has announced the official start of long-delayed peace talks with the ELN guerrillas, a move that may be intended…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.