HomeNewsBriefColombia's BACRIM Count More Than 3400 Fighters
BRIEF

Colombia's BACRIM Count More Than 3400 Fighters

COLOMBIA / 8 SEP 2014 BY JEREMY MCDERMOTT EN

Police in Colombia have stated that the country's major drug trafficking syndicates currently have more than 3,400 members, present in at least 15 of the Colombia's 32 provinces.

The leading daily newspaper, El Tiempo, reported that Colombia's National Police registered 3,410 armed members of the BACRIM (from the Spanish "Bandas Criminales"), the latest generation of drug trafficking organizations. The article went on to note that the BACRIM have a presence in 130 municipalities in 15 of the country's provinces.

The government now recognizes the existence of three BACRIM, down from over 30 in 2008. These are the Urabeños, the Rastrojos, and the successor groups from the Popular Revolutionary Anti-Terrorist Army of Colombia (ERPAC).

The Urabeños are far and away the most powerful BACRIM in the country now, with 2,650 members, over 70 percent of the total number of BACRIM registered by the police. They are the only BACRIM with national reach, as illustrated in our map below, which shows the group's presence based on data from 2013. Urabenos-Areas of Influence 2012

However, the Urabeños are also under the greatest pressure from law enforcement, both national and international. The arrest yesterday of Cesar Daniel Anaya Martinez, alias "Tierra," one of the group's senior commanders, is the latest sign of this pressure. The police believe they are closing in on the Urabeños top leader, Dario Antonio Usuga, alias "Otoniel," and that his capture is imminent.

InSight Crime Analysis

The numbers given by the Colombian police are interesting, but perhaps slightly misleading. Such is the nature of Colombian organized crime today: much of the work carried out by BACRIM is subcontracted out to other lower-tier criminal groups, or common criminals. Thus while the core, armed members of the BACRIM number around 3,400, the total manpower the groups are able to call upon is actually a great deal higher.

Also relevant is the recognition that the Urabeños are today the most powerful BACRIM in Colombia. The Urabeños not only dominate the drug trade within Colombia, but now have a presence in many other countries around the region, and further afield. If recent arrests are anything to go by, it seemed the Urabeños are working aggressively to exploit the European market, leaving Mexico's domination of the US cocaine market largely unchallenged.

SEE ALSO: The "Victory" of the Urabeños: The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

Of the other two BACRIM recognized by the Colombian government, the Rastrojos appear to be in terminal decline after the surrender of their leader Javier Calle Serna, alias "Comba," while the ERPAC dissident group the Liberators of Vichada, under the leadership of Martin Farfan Diaz Gonzalez, alias "Pijarbey," is aggressively expanding

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 / 2 MAY 2011

Ecuador’s Army spotted a two hectare cocaine plantation on the border with Colombia on April 19 on an aerial surveillance.

COLOMBIA / 29 JUL 2011

The seizure of photos and files from the ELN, Colombia's second biggest guerrilla group, offers a glimpse of the workings…

COLOMBIA / 13 APR 2015

The extreme risks and rewards of the drug trade have led to increasingly creative smuggling methods as criminal groups continually…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…