HomeNewsAnalysisPolice: FARC Trained Rastrojos to Make Landmines
ANALYSIS

Police: FARC Trained Rastrojos to Make Landmines

COLOMBIA / 29 APR 2011 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

As Colombia’s largest guerrilla army grows weaker, its allegiances to other armed groups in the country have fractured. Increasingly based on local dynamics rather than overarching national strategy, these relationships are signs that the conflict in Colombia has taken a different form in recent years.

On April 26, police discovered 1,200 pipes, intended for conversion into handmade landmines, in a remote part of the northern department of Bolivar. They also found 35 kilograms of ammonium nitrate, shrapnel and electric wire. As Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reports, local police claim that the explosive material belonged to the Rastrojos, and would have been used to lay anti-personnel mines near their cocaine-processing factories.

According to a press release from the Colombian National Police, the criminal band developed their use of mines with material support from the 6th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armasa Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC), who also instructed the group in their use.

If true, the claim suggests an allegiance between the FARC and Rastrojos in the department, which would be surprising considering the rivalry that exists between the two groups in other areas of the country. As InSight has noted, fighting between the two groups has become especially intense in the Pacific department of Cauca, culminating in a series of clashes in February that left more than 20 dead.

Although the FARC generally refrains from forging alliances with emerging criminal bands (known as BACRIMs), such agreements are not unheard of. For example, an alliance currently exists between the FARC and the Popular Anti-terrorist Army of Colombia (Ejercito Popular Antiterrorista de Colombia - ERPAC) in the country’s Eastern Plains (Llanos Orientales). The two groups have apparently reached a non-aggression pact in the area which appears to be holding despite the death, in December last year, of the ERPAC founder and leader, Pedro Oliveiro Guerrero, alias "Cuchillo."

Still, these relationships are rare, and are usually strictly limited to business. In the northern department of Antioquia for instance, where the FARC control the majority of coca-processing facilities, the rebels have been known to sell their coca base to multiple BACRIM groups in exchange for weapons, ammunition or cash.

If the FARC is training the Rastrojos to manufacture mines in Bolivar, it could be a sign that the guerrillas are experiencing increasing pressure from security forces in that department. For one thing, if the guerrillas are working with paramilitary groups, it shows they lack the strength to hold out against the military by themselves.

Additionally, if the FARC are sharing their expertise in mine-laying, a classic guerrilla tactic, this would in itself be an indicator that their capacity to carry out military offensives has decreased. Landmines are likely to become more frequently used as the military continues to make progress against guerrilla forces, who will choose such ambush tactics rather than engaging in combat.

Colombia is the nation second most affected by landmines, just after Afghanistan. InSight has developed a map to track this phenomenon, showing the top ten departments and municipalities most affected by anti-personnel mines so far this year.

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 / 19 SEP 2013

Neo-paramilitary criminal gangs are the greatest threat to Colombians trying to reclaim stolen land, according to US NGO Human Rights…

AUC / 19 JUL 2012

While former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has faced mounting allegations of drug trafficking and paramilitary ties, he has proved to…

COLOMBIA / 6 JAN 2016

Colombia's top police chief has said the armed forces may bomb more encampments belonging to criminal group the Urabeños, nearly a…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…