HomeNewsBriefCall Recordings Reveal Colombia Military Arms Trafficking
BRIEF

Call Recordings Reveal Colombia Military Arms Trafficking

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 25 MAR 2015 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Recently released wiretap recordings shed light on how an arms trafficking ring within the Colombian military sold hundreds of weapons to criminal gangs.

The recordings, which were obtained by investigative magazine Semana, involve two soldiers in charge of an Army battalion's arsenal in the city of Pereira. The soldiers negotiated the sale of military weapons with criminals, discussing prices, delivery, and how to cover their tracks. 

In one recording, one of the soldiers discusses a deal with a man known as "Sebastian," a member of a local faction of Colombia's most powerful criminal network, the Urabeños. The pair talk about whether another gang member's criminal record would prevent him from purchasing a gun permit from the military. 

"Tell him his criminal record is just for drugs, nothing else," says Sebastian. "Ok, fine, there are some records that you can do it with, but there are other more serious crimes, like homicide you can't," replies the solider. Reassured, the soldier later adds, "Ok, I'll find out how much it costs, what guns they're offering and I'll let you know."

At another point in the conversation, the soldier asks what brand of gun Sebastian prefers. "Just make sure they're pretty," Sebastian replies. "And small. Not the big ones."

In another recording, one of the soldiers, fearing discovery, attempts to bribe a colleague to alter the records to conceal the missing guns.

"You tell me a price and I'll get it for you, whatever price you want," he says. "This is so there won't be an investigation, you won't have any problems, I guarantee it," he adds.

The two soldiers are suspected of selling 406 stolen weapons, including 109 rifles, 188 revolvers, 87 pistols, 11 shotguns and three sub-machineguns, according to Semana. They were arrested earlier this month on charges of criminal conspiracy, arms trafficking and illegal possession of weapons.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Pereira case is far from the first example of arms trafficking rings operating from within the Colombian military.

Last year, a group of active and retired military, police, and civilians were accused of supplying military arms parts to the Urabeños, even using official transport to smuggle them. In 2013, four men, including active and former military officials, were arrested on charges of selling stolen military weapons to gangs in the city of Cali.

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

It is not just Colombia's criminal groups that benefit from this corruption. In the past, army and police officials have even been accused of supplying arms to the insurgent group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who are involved in a decades-long conflict with the very same security forces.

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

COCAINE / 19 AUG 2021

Colombia's northern city of Santa Marta has seen a shocking rise in murders this year as smaller gangs are getting…

AUC / 30 AUG 2021

Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was the pioneer in industrial-scale cocaine trafficking.

COCAINE EUROPE / 21 SEP 2021

Ever greater quantities of cocaine are making their way across the Atlantic and are being sold at ever greater prices…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…