HomeNewsBriefArrests Highlight ELN-Rastrojos Alliance in Southwest Colombia
BRIEF

Arrests Highlight ELN-Rastrojos Alliance in Southwest Colombia

COLOMBIA / 27 JAN 2012 BY CHRISTOPHER LOOFT EN

Colombian authorities have announced the capture of 27 members of drug gang the Rastrojos, who were reportedly working in partnership with the ELN rebel group.

Police Director General Oscar Naranjo said the traffickers ran an operation worth $30 million, Caracol reported.

The smuggling network was based in Tumaco, Nariño, a stronghold for both the Rastrojos and the National Liberation Army (ELN). The traffickers reportedly shipped up to 1,000 kilos of cocaine per month in go-fast boats from the Pacific port city.

Among those arrested is Giovanni Alberto Agudelo Urrego, a key financier wanted for extradition by Spanish authorities for trafficking drugs to Europe, according to Semana.

Also arrested was Robinson Días Rodriguez, alias "El Gordo," a lieutenant for a top Rastrojos hitman known as "Lucker," who was arrested in June 2011.

InSight Crime Analysis

The relationship between the ELN and Los Rastrojos began in 2006, as InSight has reported. The partnership between a left-wing guerrilla army and a drug trafficking organization (made up of many former paramilitary fighters) was the first of its kind. The ELN supplied coca base for refinement into cocaine, guarded laboratories, and transported cocaine shipments for the Rastrojos, and in return were supplied with badly-needed funds and equipment.

The ELN began working with the Rastrojos while they were under pressure from then-rivals the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a much larger organization. The ELN were a crippled force at the time and could not afford to fight the FARC and the neo-paramilitary gang on two fronts. Thanks to the Rastrojos alliance, the ELN were able to rebuild their strength in departments like Nariño and Cauca, which have great strategic importance for the drug trade.

But the Rastrojos-ELN alliance endured even after the FARC and the ELN declared a ceasefire, first announced in 2009 but only properly enforced nationwide in 2011. When FARC leader Manuel Marulanda, alias "Tirofijo," died in 2008, his successor Guillermo Leon Saenz Vargas, alias "Alfonso Cano," changed the FARC's policy toward the ELN. While Marulanda wanted to confront and absorb the ELN, Cano was willing to work alongside the group.

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

ARGENTINA / 1 OCT 2020

From mostly being a lower-level criminal annoyance, oil theft has spread across Latin America during the coronavirus pandemic as a…

COLOMBIA / 18 DEC 2013

Former sworn enemies from criminal clans based in Colombia's violence capital, Cali, have brokered an alliance from prison, according to…

COCA / 4 JAN 2019

Presidential elections in the two countries at the heart of Latin America's drug trade both brought significant change in 2018:…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.