HomeNewsBriefAre the Urabeños Expanding Their Presence in Eastern Colombia?
BRIEF

Are the Urabeños Expanding Their Presence in Eastern Colombia?

COLOMBIA / 26 JAN 2016 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

One of Colombia's most powerful criminal organizations could be moving into new territory in the eastern part of the country in an attempt to fill the vacuum left by the death of a top regional crime boss.

An army general told El Tiempo that the September 2015 death of Martín Farfán Díaz Gonzalez, alias "Pijarbey," has led to a "reconfiguration" of the criminal landscape in Colombia's Eastern Plains region, which includes the departments of Meta and Vichada.

Until his recent killing during a police raid, Pijarbey headed the dominant regional drug trafficking organization, known as the Libertadores del Vichada. Several weeks after Pijarbey's demise, police captured Darío Andrés León Humanez, alias "Jonathan," the leader of the Libertadores' main local rival, the Meta Bloc.

Now, military intelligence sources say that for several months they have detected the presence of members of the Urabeños, also known as "Clan Úsuga," in the department of Meta. The Urabeños are believed to maintain an alliance with the Libertadores del Vichada.

The sources consulted by El Tiempo said Urabeños leader Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias "Otoniel," instructed his regional lieutenant, alias "Monar," to consolidate the group's position in the eastern region in order to take advantage of potential revenues from extorting the local agricultural industry.

InSight Crime Analysis

Although it is difficult to draw solid conclusions from this preliminary information, it would be little surprise if the Urabeños attempt to establish a greater presence in the Eastern Plains region. In addition to potential extortion revenues from the agricultural sector, the area also has the attraction of being a hub for cocaine production and transshipment to nearby Venezuela and Brazil.

The cocaine business in Colombia's Eastern Plains used to be dominated by a right-wing paramilitary group known as the Popular Revolutionary Anti-Terrorist Army of Colombia (Ejército Revolucionario Popular Antiterrorista Colombiano - ERPAC), which morphed into a drug trafficking organization in the mid-2000s. After partially demobilizing in 2011, the ERPAC split into the two factions mentioned above -- the Meta Bloc and the Libertadores del Vichada, both of which have been significantly weakened by the recent loss of their top leadership.

SEE ALSO: Urabeños News and Profile

Nevertheless, the Urabeños would face a number of challenges should they attempt to expand their operations in Colombia's Eastern Plains. For one, the organization is already under significant pressure from the Colombian government, which is conducting a massive manhunt for "Otoniel" and has promised to continue an aerial bombing campaign against the group. And aside from their links to the Libertadores, the Urabeños have little in the way of established networks or criminal infrastructure in the region, which is separated from their traditional coastal strongholds by the Andes mountain range.

Given these conditions, it is possible that a move to deepen involvement in the Eastern Plains could spread the Urabeños too thin. On the other hand, the region's criminal landscape is clearly in a period of transition, which could facilitate the creation of new alliances. In the event of a peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC), the Urabeños may try to partner with criminalized elements of the FARC's Eastern Bloc in order to consolidate control of the region's lucrative drug trade. 

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 / 10 JUL 2013

The United States Treasury Department has placed 31 individuals and entities on its "Kingpin List" for participation in a Colombia-based…

COLOMBIA / 9 MAR 2011

(Originally published 3 March, reprinted with permission from Adam Isacson and Just the Facts.) The State…

COLOMBIA / 25 SEP 2012

They say that during the worst times, between 1999 and 2002, when right-wing paramilitaries who went by their acronym the…

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.