HomeNewsBriefColombia Busts Over 100 FARC Cocaine Labs
BRIEF

Colombia Busts Over 100 FARC Cocaine Labs

COLOMBIA / 3 AUG 2016 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

Colombia has destroyed over 100 cocaine laboratories and stripped a FARC faction of $10 million in potential earnings, exposing the huge criminal finances that promise to keep many guerrilla fighters in the field even if a peace deal is reached in the near future.

Colombian police have destroyed 104 clandestine laboratories capable of producing over 75 metric tons of cocaine per year in the remote eastern region of Guaviare department.

The structures were run by the 1st Front (or “Armando Ríos” Front) of guerrilla organization the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC), Caracol Radio reported after visiting the jungle region. The FARC faction would have allegedly earned around $10 million from the laboratories over the course of the year.

During the five-day operation, 120 members of the Anti-Narcotics Police and Air Force seized 1.7 metric tons of coca base, 38 metric tons of coca leaf, 5.5 metric tons of chemicals and 16,000 gallons of gasoline, ingredients essential for making cocaine.

Caracol Radio reported that local coca farmers were forced to sell their product to the guerrilla group. For every kilogram of cocaine sold, the front’s leadership received 150 grams’ worth of the profits. From Guaviare, the cocaine was smuggled into Venezuela and Brazil before being trafficked around the world, according to the police.

In northern Guaviare, the 1st Front has business deals with Brazilian, Peruvian and Venezuelan drug trafficking groups, as well as the Colombian organizations known as the Urabeños and the Puntilleros — the latter referring to former paramilitary groups operating in the country’s Eastern Plains region.

Caracol Radio added that the value of coca base in Guaviare surged from $161 per kilogram to $805 following the police operation, and will continue to rise.

The bust is part of new government strategy that aims to weaken the early production stages of the drug suply chain, reported Reuters.

InSight Crime Analysis

The 1st Front has been emblematic of the problems the FARC’s criminal empire pose as the guerrilla group nears a final peace agreement with the Colombian government. In July 2016, the faction declared that it would ignore eventual orders to demobilize, claiming its insurgents would continue “fighting to seize power for the people.”

But this huge seizure is strong proof that — as had been widely suggested — the 1st Front’s resistance to the peace process has more to do with the criminal profits it would lose out on rather than an ideological struggle.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of FARC Peace

Following the 1st Front’s announcement, specialists pointed out that the group makes a significant amount of money from drug crop cultivation, laboratories and trafficking routes into Venezuela, as well as illegal mining. The FARC leadership was quick to distance itself from the breakaway faction, stating that it was using “political arguments with the aim of disguising the clear influence of financial interests that are averse to the end of the conflict.”

The recent anti-drug operation in Guaviare appears to be part of a recent shift in Colombia’s anti-drug policy, which looks to increasingly target cocaine laboratories rather than coca fields.

The bust may also serve as a show of state force against other dissident factions of the rebel group. President Juan Manuel Santos has repeatedly said that the only options for fighters who refuse to demobilize will be prison or the grave.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 5 SEP 2011

U.S. and Colombian authorities have chalked up a series of victories against the organization of one of Colombia's most prolific…

ECUADOR / 28 MAR 2013

Ecuadorean armed forces have reported two confrontations with Colombian rebels in a week, as the country marks five years…

COLOMBIA / 24 FEB 2012

Colombia has extradited Danilo Bustos Suarez, former second-in-command to drug kingpin Daniel "El Loco" Barrera, to the US,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…