HomeNewsBriefArrests Point to Urabeños' Evolving Role in Colombia's Illegal Mining
BRIEF

Arrests Point to Urabeños' Evolving Role in Colombia's Illegal Mining

COLOMBIA / 7 DEC 2015 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

Authorities in Colombia have dismantled a network of illegal mining operators allegedly working for drug trafficking group the Urabeños, providing further evidence of how the country's criminal organizations are deepening their involvement in unregulated gold mining. 

On December 3, Colombia's national police captured 14 alleged members of the Urabeños in the department of Choco, near the border with Panama, reported El Pais.

The suspects allegedly ran an illegal mining network that authorities estimated was capable of producing at least six pounds of gold per week, representing a value of approximately $4.3 million this year. Over the past three years, this gold brought in average returns of $17.2 million once sold. Profits were reportedly shared between mining operators, gold sellers, and the Urabeños.

Among those captured was Jose Genaro Murillo, a former mayor of Sipi, Choco and the alleged head of the network. He is suspected of having ties to "Sebastian," the Urabeños leader supposedly in charge of overseeing the group's illegal gold mining interests in the region of Uraba.

The other detained suspects are reportedly legal representatives of mining companies and owners of mines that worked for the Urabeños.

InSight Crime Analysis

The arrests appear to corroborate information obtained during recent fieldwork by InSight Crime, which found that criminal groups have increased their involvement in illegal mining operations. These groups have long profited off illegal mining by charging miners extortion fees, but authorities say they are now investing in and regulating the mines, and using local frontmen as administrators.

The Urabeños are no exception. Colombia's most powerful criminal group, the Urabeños have diversified their criminal portfolio to include illegal gold mining, in addition to illicit activities such as drug trafficking and extortion. Their involvement in illegal gold has been most apparent in the department of Choco, a stronghold for the group and a resource-rich region.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Gold

Gold not only provides a source of revenue for criminal groups, but also a means of laundering dirty money. Once extracted, contraband gold is typically sold to exporters, who then introduce it into the legal market by providing false accounts.

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 / 13 NOV 2012

A new report by Cali-based newspaper El Pais details how the decimated remnants of the Norte del Valle Cartel decided…

COLOMBIA / 4 SEP 2012

More than 59,000 wild animals are illegally captured each year in Colombia and smuggled to Bogota, a city that has…

OTONIEL / 16 MAR 2015

Colombia has deployed significant resources to a mahunt for the leader of drug trafficking organization the Urabeños, one of the few…

About InSight Crime

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.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…