HomeNewsBriefArrest of FARC’s Pacific Narco Boss Shines Light on Rebel Drug Ops
BRIEF

Arrest of FARC’s Pacific Narco Boss Shines Light on Rebel Drug Ops

COLOMBIA / 22 JUL 2014 BY CAMILO MEJIA GIRALDO EN

Authorities in Colombia have captured the commander of the FARC's 30th Front and alleged head of the group's Pacific coast drug operations in a blow to a powerful guerrilla unit already capitalizing on its criminal potential.

Colombia's judicial police (DIJIN) detained Martin Leonel Perez Castro, alias "Richard" in one of his luxurious country homes in the southwestern Valle del Cauca department on July 20, reported El Tiempo.

According to Colombia's Defense Ministry, Perez, also known as "El Capo", became head of the 30th Front in 2011 and was responsible for managing around 60 percent of the FARC's drug trafficking-related income, and for reinvesting profits in arms purchases. 

According to El Tiempo, Perez coordinated drug-related operations while based in jungle encampments in the Cauca department. These included charging drug traffickers "vacunas" (vaccination) -- in the form of a tax of approximately $250 per kilo trafficked through the area -- and overseeing coca cultivation, cocaine processing and trafficking to Panama and other Central American nations.

The unit commander reportedly formerly worked with the BACRIM (for the Spanish for criminal band) group the Rastrojos, but when they went into decline he established his own trafficking operations through direct contacts with Mexican cartels, according to El Tiempo. This involved purchasing their own go-fast boats for transport, but also forcing traffickers to carry FARC shipments along with their own loads.

Insight Crime Analysis

Perez's activities and the alliances he reportedly built serve to illustrate the evolution of the FARC's involvement in the drug trade, progressing from taxing drug traffickers operating in FARC territory to establishing control over production and finally to running their own trafficking routes.

The details emerging of Perez's operations add to a weight of evidence indicating the 30th Front are one of the most heavily criminalized FARC units with extensive drug trade operations. Earlier this year, the head of the Pacific region Coast Guard told InSight Crime that in some parts of the region the line between the 30th Front and Colombia's most powerful criminal group, the "Urabeños," is now so blurred that security forces consider them to operate as practically one organization.

SEE ALSO: FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

Although the drug trade has funded much of the FARC's armed struggle, the central command has only admitting to charging taxes on drug trafficking activities and insists the FARC are not a drug trafficking organization. While this may remain true in some parts of Colombia, Perez and the 30th Front illustrate just how far certain FARC units have moved away from the command's rhetoric. And it is these units that are the prime candidates for criminalization should the peace talks currently underway result in the guerrillas demobilizing.

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 / 29 OCT 2021

series of attacks on oil pipelines in Colombia's northeastern department of Santander, for which the ELN has claimed responsibility, could…

COCAINE / 12 OCT 2020

A new major report about drug trafficking and consumption in Europe has provided key insights into how a record production…

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…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…