HomeNewsBriefColombia Detains FARC Extortion Boss
BRIEF

Colombia Detains FARC Extortion Boss

COLOMBIA / 31 AUG 2012 BY VICTORIA ROSSI EN

Colombian police said they had captured the head of extortion for the FARC’s Eastern Bloc, highlighting the guerrilla group's renewed focus on extortion, which the government claims is due to declining revenue from the drug trade.

Yordani Gonzalez Paredes, alias "El Gordo," was detained in the central province of Meta on August 21. According to Colombia's chief of police, Jose Roberto Leon Riaño, Gonzalez had been a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) since the age of 13, rising to become the head of finances for the 10th Front and the principal extortionist for the Eastern Bloc.

On the same day as Gonzalez's capture, a power station was attacked by alleged FARC guerrillas in the energy-rich department of Arauca, where the 10th Front is active. The attack caused blackouts in at least six municipalities and left some 100,000 people without power. It is the third such attack in Arauca since June, though it is not known whether these were related to extortion demands.

InSight Crime Analysis

Extortion has traditionally been one of the rebel group's main source of funds, but there appears to have been a renewed focus on the practice in recent months. Attacks on energy infrastructure rose 253 percent in the first six months of this year compared to the same period in 2011. According to Colombia's mines and energy minister, Mauricio Cardenas, the jump in attacks is a result of the government's crackdown on the FARC's drug trafficking networks, which has cut into the group's revenue and pushed them to focus on finding funds elsewhere.

Earlier this year the rebels announced that they would cease kidnapping for ransom, removing one of their other main revenue sources.

The FARC’s main extortion sources have been corporations working in Colombia’s energy sector, particularly oil and mineral extraction. The guerrillas demand extortion payments of up to $30,000 from companies in exchange for promising not to attack their workers, according to El Tiempo. There is evidence that this figure is often even higher. The capture of another FARC extortionist in September last year revealed that the group had been demanding extortion payments of up to $279,000 to the Eastern Bloc in Meta.

Though the government claims the assaults on businesses are all financially motivated, Latin America’s oldest guerrilla group may also be putting itself in a position of strength for potential peace talks with the government by targeting Colombia’s most profitable sectors.

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

EXTORTION / 24 OCT 2014

Public transport workers in Honduras called off a strike after the government agreed to new security measures to stem violence…

COLOMBIA / 6 JUL 2016

A multi-year investigation has revealed that up to 70 percent of mining in Colombia is illegal, a statistic that brings…

ARGENTINA / 8 SEP 2016

In the heart of some of South America's biggest cities, local authorities have ceded control of drug slums to organized…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…