HomeNewsBriefColombia 'Chopping Houses' Highlight Forced Disappearance Methods
BRIEF

Colombia 'Chopping Houses' Highlight Forced Disappearance Methods

COLOMBIA / 6 MAR 2014 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

The discovery of houses used by criminal groups in Colombia's Pacific port city of Buenaventura to mutilate the bodies of victims and then "disappear" them shines a light on a practice commonly used by organized crime to avoid bringing heat from security forces.

Valle del Cauca police commander Coronel Mariano Botero Coy said authorities had discovered five so-called "chopping houses" used by two criminal groups fighting for control in the area, the Urabeños and La Empresa, reported Caracol.

According to Botero, the perpetrators strap their victims to a table and use power saws and other cutting devices to dismember their victims while they are still alive, reported RCN.

The body parts of people who had disappeared in Buenaventura in 2013 began to appear last June. Between that month and October, authorities found the remains of eight people who had been murdered and chopped up, and their body parts put in bags weighed down with rocks that were then thrown out to sea.

In the 15 days leading up to March 5 this year, the remains of 12 more unidentified victims were found, with recent disappearances including three fishermen and a man who sold cell phone minutes, reported El Espectador. The reports regarding these houses of horror have led a specialized group from the Technical Investigation Team of the Prosecutor General's Office to come to the area to investigate, reported El Colombiano.

InSight Crime Analysis

The gruesome scene set by criminal organizations in Buenaventura is linked to an ongoing territorial battle between the Urabeños narco-paramilitaries and the local Rastrojos-allied gang La Empresa. As the country's biggest port, Buenaventura is a strategic departure point for major shipments of cocaine, much of it processed in the surrounding region.

This criminal power struggle has wreaked havoc on locals, resulting in 78 forced disappearances last year, and the displacement of over 4,000 people.

Drug conflict has been ongoing in Buenaventura for years, with forced disappearances common and the homicide rate peaking in 2007, but these latest discoveries are another indicator of the worrisome return of extreme violence to the area.

SEE ALSO:  Urabeños Profile

Disappearing victims is a common tactic used by criminal groups throughout the region to get rid of their enemies while avoiding drawing attention from authorities. The methods used for disposing of the bodies are often quite disturbing, including dissolving them in acid or throwing them down wells. In the past, Colombia's United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitaries were major perpetrators of forced disappearances. More recently, the discoveries of mass graves in Mexico and El Salvador have served to show how the countries' continuing high levels of violence have been obscured by criminal groups simply hiding their victims.

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 / 11 MAR 2020

New studies are seeking to address the complex and rapidly evolving roles that women play in criminal structures, which have…

COLOMBIA / 13 JAN 2016

On January 10, Guatemalan political scientist Carlos Mendoza tweeted a series of graphs comparing Guatemala's steadily declining homicide rates with…

COLOMBIA / 31 MAY 2013

Colombia's criminal hybrid groups, known as BACRIM, are reportedly using landmines to protect their criminal interests in north Colombia, marking…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…