HomeNewsBriefColombia Govt Claims Success Against Urabeños, But Group Remains Strong
BRIEF

Colombia Govt Claims Success Against Urabeños, But Group Remains Strong

COLOMBIA / 9 MAY 2017 BY TRISTAN CLAVEL EN

A recent series of deadly attacks against police in Colombia attributed to the Urabeños hasn't stopped authorities from trumpeting their successes against the criminal group, despite evidence of the Urabeños' persistent strength.

The Urabeños criminal group, the most powerful in Colombia, is accused of having orchestrated yet another attack against Colombian law enforcement, resulting in the death of a police officer in the Caribbean city of Acandí in the department of Chocó, reported Caracol Radio on May 8.

According to the news outlet, two other police officers were killed within a span of a week in the neighboring department of Antioquia.

In addition, a police commander was murdered in the northern city of Valledupar on May 5. Authorities stated that the alleged attacker, who was killed during his arrest, was a member of the Urabeños, according to El Colombiano.

The spate of murders of police officers stretches back to March and has in part been attributed to the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN) rebel group. But authorities have also argued that the most recent murders have been retaliation on the part of the Urabeños for security operations against the group. 

Since February 2017, at least three high-profile figures of the criminal organization have been killed during police operations, and a fourth was arrested in Medellín, reported El Colombiano in a separate article.

On May 3, shortly after the third death of a high-ranking Urabeños figure, a police patrol responding to an emergency call in the San Cristóbal area near Medellín was attacked with an explosive device that was thrown inside the police vehicle. Two officers were injured in an act that was described as part of the criminal group's retaliatory actions.

SEE ALSO: Urabeños News and Profile

Meanwhile, on May 6, authorities held a ceremony to congratulate police officers who participated in "Operation Agamenón," reported Radio Sante Fe.

The operation, launched in February 2015, led to the deployment of significant firepower, including military helicopters and bombardments of camps, with the aim of destroying the Urabeños in their traditional stronghold, the Caribbean Urabá region, which is used as a launchpad for cocaine shipments. One of the explicit objectives from the start was the capture of the criminal group's top leader, Dario Antonio Usuga, alias "Otoniel."

Authorities list among the operation's successes the capture of more than 1,000 suspected Urabeños members and the seizure of 44 metric tons of cocaine, according to Radio Sante Fe.

General Jorge Hernando Nieto Rojas, the head of Colombia's National Police, asserted that the criminal organization "has been dismantled by more than 50 percent."

InSight Crime Analysis

The number of Urabeños members reportedly captured during Operation Agamenón as well as the large seizures of cocaine suggest that authorities have succeeded in delivering some blows to the criminal organization. In addition, the pressure from the long-running operation appears to be one of the explanatory factors for the group's attempt to take over trafficking routes in the Chocó department.

Still, the Colombian government's assertions that their efforts have significantly weakened the Urabeños deserve close scrutiny. Various signs, including the string of recent attacks against police officers, indicate that the group continues to wield significant criminal power. In fact, reports have indicated that the Urabeños have been extending their reach, including along the country's Pacific Coast and in Putumayo along the border with Ecuador.

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

And while the government boasts about the large volume of cocaine seizures, the size of these busts actually points to the organization's continued strength. 

Moreover, nearly two years after the start of Operation Agamenón, authorities have yet to capture Otoniel. In other words, the initiative has so far failed to achieve its prime objective. The Urabeños' leader has so far evaded capture and remains at large.

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

AUC / 9 AUG 2016

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running…

COLOMBIA / 1 APR 2014

The department of Valle del Cauca has become Colombia's bloodiest drug war battleground as the country's most powerful criminal organization,…

COLOMBIA / 15 APR 2014

Police in Colombia have arrested an operative from Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel who was attempting to buy cocaine laboratories from Colombia’s…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Dirty Money and Tren de Aragua

29 OCT 2021

InSight Crime was delighted to support investigative reporting in the Americas through a workshop with our friends at Connectas, a non-profit journalism initiative that facilitates collaboration…