HomeNewsBriefEx-FARC Mafia Fronts Left Reeling by Colombian Army in Antioquia
BRIEF

Ex-FARC Mafia Fronts Left Reeling by Colombian Army in Antioquia

COLOMBIA / 23 APR 2020 BY OSMAR CABANZO EN

A targeted campaign by Colombian armed forces has left the 18th and 36th Fronts of the ex-FARC Mafia struggling to regroup in the northern department of Antioquia, a strategic drug trafficking corridor contested by a number of criminal groups.

The army has made regular reports about its progress in the region, especially in the municipalities of Ituango, Valdivia and Tarazá. The latest, posted by a division commander on Twitter, said four suspected guerrilla fighters from the 18th Front were killed in Ituango on April 17. The ex-FARC Mafia are groups of dissident guerrillas from the now demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC), not to be confused with the now legal political party formed following the 2016 peace agreement, the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común FARC).

In late March, the alleged second-in-command of the 18th Front, Francisco Antonio Holguín Builes, alias “Piscino,” was killed in the village of El Castillo in the municipality of Ituango, El Colombiano reported.

Piscino was not in this role for long as he had only taken over responsibility for the 18th Front's recruitment and finances in February after the death of Elías Monsalve Palacio, alias "Patoso."

SEE ALSO: Chronicle of a Threat Foretold: the ex-FARC Mafia 

The 36th Front has also suffered from the Colombian Army's recent offensive. In mid-April, two men were arrested who were reportedly part of the security team of 36th Front leader, Ricardo Abel Ayala, alias “Cabuyo."

Sources within the Colombian Army's Seventh Division told El Colombiano that recent military operations had reduced the 36th Front's manpower by more than 50 percent since 2019.

And in August 2019, the Colombian government increased rewards for information leading to the capture of  Cabuyo and 18th Front commander, Erlison Chavarria Escobar, alias "Ramiro."

Prior to the army's intervention, this part of Antioquia had been hotly contested among a number of criminal groups, particularly Los Urabeños and a criminal alliance of the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN), Los Caparrapos and the ex-FARC Mafia's 18th and 36th Fronts.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Colombian Army regularly reports the capture or killing of "commanders" within armed groups, making it sometimes tricky to ascertain the importance of these figures. But the repeated blows suffered by the ex-FARC Mafia's 18th and 36th fronts suggest a decline in their military and organizational capacity.

This is a significant development in this part of Antioquia, given the complex network of criminal actors fighting for control of the Bajo Cauca region and the Nudo de Paramillo mountain range, strategic points along drug trafficking routes to the Pacific Ocean.

The alliance established between the ex-FARC Mafia, the ELN and the Caparrapos to hold off Los Urabeños relied on each group providing a credible armed threat. The weakening of the 18th and 36th Fronts puts this alliance in jeopardy. 

SEE ALSO: Ex-FARC Mafia Profile

A number of variables will determine these fronts' survival. The most pressing concern is whether they can resist the army's continuing push. The capture or killing of their top leaders, such as Cabuyo or Ramiro, could threaten the very existence of these structures as independent armed groups.

The second issue is whether they can somehow maintain their alliance with the ELN and the Caparrapos to keep enemies at bay. The 18th Front may be helped in this since they pledged loyalty in October 2019 to former FARC commander, Luciano Marín Arango, alias “Iván Márquez," giving them at least the appearance of belonging to a larger dissident force.

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 2022

The ELN plays a continuing role in facilitating large-scale cattle smuggling between Colombia and Venezuela.

COLOMBIA / 2 JUN 2021

The Colombian government has, rather optimistically, announced the demise of one of the country's more aggressive criminal groups, in a…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 4 OCT 2022

Corruption, no supervision, and poor legislation have led to Latin American military weapons ending up in criminal hands.

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…