HomeNewsBriefColombia Dismantles Underground Drug Lab Linked to Ex-FARC Mafia
BRIEF

Colombia Dismantles Underground Drug Lab Linked to Ex-FARC Mafia

COLOMBIA / 23 MAY 2018 BY PARKER ASMANN* EN

Authorities in Colombia have dismantled a subterranean drug laboratory in one of the country’s most strategic drug trafficking regions, suggesting that there is growing sophistication and innovation among crime groups made up of dissident FARC members operating there.

The anti-narcotics division of Colombia’s army on May 21 dismantled a laboratory with underground tunnels designed to produce cocaine hydrochloride in a rural village in the municipality of Tumaco in the southwestern department of Nariño, according to a military press release.

Authorities have linked the laboratory to the Oliver Sinisterra front, led by Ecuadorean national Walter Arizala Vernaza, alias “Guacho.” Guacho is a dissident of the largely demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) and his ex-FARC mafia group was recently linked to the kidnapping and murder of three Ecuadorean press workers along the Colombia-Ecuador border.

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

According to the press release, the laboratory contained six structures and featured 330 gallons of gasoline, several industrial heaters and various other precursor chemicals used to make cocaine. Authorities valued the lab at more than 800 million pesos (around $284,000).

The laboratory was capable of producing two tons of cocaine per month and was one of the most sophisticated operations that authorities have seen, according to El Tiempo.

Nariño is ground zero of the global cocaine trade and Colombia’s main coca-producing area, according to a 2017 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

InSight Crime Analysis

Criminal groups made up of FARC dissidents are gaining strength throughout Colombia, and the dismantling of a subterranean drug-producing laboratory suggests that these groups are using new and increasingly sophisticated methods, and investing more resources, to evade authorities.

SEE ALSO: ‘The Invisibles’: Colombia’s New Generation of Drug Traffickers

According to field research conducted by InSight Crime on the new generation of drug traffickers in Colombia’s post-FARC era, these ex-FARC mafia criminal networks are employing new drug-producing techniques in order to evade authorities. For example, InSight Crime found that armed groups are now contracting third parties to run mobile labs that are destroyed and moved to another location after the work is done.

*This article was written with assistance from Sergio Saffon.

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 / 7 APR 2021

Illegal gold mining is devastating South America's jungles. The trade has been destroying large swaths of forest and flooding rivers…

COCAINE / 2 MAR 2021

With higher profits and lower risks than the United States, Europe has emerged recently as arguably the most important cocaine…

COLOMBIA / 25 JUL 2022

The Urabeños, and some smaller Colombian gangs, have sent a letter to president-elect Gustavo Petro to seek peace.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…