HomeNewsBriefColombia is 90% BACRIM-free: Defense Minister
BRIEF

Colombia is 90% BACRIM-free: Defense Minister

COLOMBIA / 29 JAN 2013 BY MIRIAM WELLS EN

Criminal gangs are now only present in 10 percent of Colombia's municipalities, according to the country's defense minister, although there is reason to doubt his assertion.

Juan Carlos Pinzon said that the BACRIM ("bandas criminales" or "criminal bands"), the term used by the Colombian government to describe drug trafficking gangs that emerged out of the 2006 paramilitary demobilization process, had been hit "like never before" during 2012.

Pinzon claimed, "All those who were bosses of a criminal gang were captured or killed," reported W Radio, adding that the groups had subsequently splintered and no longer acted under a unified command.

According to the minister, the majority of homicides in Colombia were caused by clashes between BACRIM, reported RCN Radio.

InSight Crime Analysis

Pinzon's figure clashes with that due to be published this month in a study by respected Colombian NGO Nuevo Arco Iris, which claims BACRIM are present in at least 17 percent of the country's municipalities, reported RCN Radio. Just last November, Pinzon said BACRIM were operating in 160 municipalities, which represents around 14 per cent.

According to Nuevo Arco Iris, which rejects the term BACRIM in favor of "neo-paramilitary," the criminal gangs have steadily increased their presence across the country since 2008.The same conclusion was made in a report released last February by Colombian conflict think tank Indepaz, which estimated gangs were present in around a third of the country in 2011.

Whatever the real figure may be, there is no doubt the major criminal organizations maintain a formidable presence throughout the country. While drug trafficking gang the Rastrojos suffered the capture or surrender of three principal leaders last year and has since endured a period of splintering and infighting, its weakening appears to have spurred main rivals the Urabeños to expand to their territory in southwest Valle del Cauca province. The government must therefore work continually to prevent incursion by other groups in order to ensure a decrease in the BACRIM territorial presence.

Indepaz president Camilo Gonzales told news website Colombia Reports last week the Urabeños had not experienced any weakening or significant changes in its leadership, further challenging Pinzon's account. The group did lose one of their main leaders in January 2012, although so far it does not appear to have adversely affected the group. 

Pinzon appeared to be "taking liberties" with his estimate, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) Senior Associate Adam Isacson told InSight Crime, adding that he would be more interested in seeing the figure for BACRIM presence in municipalities where mining, biofuel and oil production took place and with a high incidence of forced displacement and land restitution disputes, as well as drug trafficking. "I'd imagine the percentage is extremely high," he said.

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 / 26 OCT 2021

Two top police commanders in Colombia and Mexico have recently admitted to filtering sensitive information to drug traffickers while working…

ARGENTINA / 3 FEB 2021

As workers across Latin America struggle to stay afloat amid economic strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, loan sharks offering…

COCAINE EUROPE / 2 DEC 2022

An increase in seizures of tusi, or pink cocaine, in Spain could mean that this synthetic drug cocktail could be…

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…