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BRIEF

Colombia Arms Trafficking Ring Included Ex-Police, Witch

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 1 NOV 2010 BY INSIGHT CRIME EN

With occasional advice from a “witch,” a group of police and military officials sold arms to the FARC’s 48th Front, Colombian news media is reporting.

 Monday, the Attorney General’s Office announced the arrest of 44 members of an arms trafficking band, which included six active officers in the police and military and twelve retirees. The arrests took place in at least 11 major cities across the country, including Barranquilla, Cali and Villavicencio. The head of the Attorney General’s investigative branch, CTI, said the group brought in 100 million pesos (about $55,500) a month, and that some traffickers consulted a “witch” before making major shipments. The woman has also been arrested for acting as an accomplice.

 Not only is this another embarrassing smear on Colombia’s security forces, but it is another indication of the links between corrupt officers and the arms trafficking business. When Insight did field investigations in Colombia’s north-central department of Antioquia last spring, various sources said that the Galil rifles, most commonly used by gang members in the countryside, were most likely supplied by corrupt elements in the military. It is illegal to purchase arms in Colombia without special permits. Much of the weapons in the black market are leftovers from the paramilitaries, or else, in the case of groups like the Rastrojos, are trafficked illegally from China. And as demonstrated by Monday’s arrests, mercenary police or army officials may also have links to the illicit arms trade, especially in rural areas.

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