HomeNewsBriefColombia Makes Record Coltan Seizure from 'FARC'
BRIEF

Colombia Makes Record Coltan Seizure from 'FARC'

COLOMBIA / 13 SEP 2012 BY CLAIRE O'NEILL MCCLESKEY EN

Colombian police have seized 17 tons of coltan reportedly belonging to FARC rebels, illustrating how armed groups have gained control of the black market for the valuable mineral and turned it into another revenue stream.

Police seized 17 tons of coltan in a raid on a warehouse in the eastern province of Guainia on September 11, which they said was being used by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The operation was the country's largest-ever seizure of coltan, a metallic ore used to make electronic devices.

Coltan is becoming an increasingly important source of revenue for the rebels, and some refer to it as "guerrilla gold." The shipment was reportedly intended for export to Japan, according to RCN Radio

Insight Crime Analysis 

Colombia has an estimated 5 percent of the world’s coltan reserves, and the mineral is making a big impact on conflict within the country. As well as controlling unlicensed gold mines, both guerrillas and paramilitaries have turned to illegal coltan mining in the east of the country to fund their operations, with the price of the mineral fluctuating between a high of $200 and a more recent estimate of $50 per pound. Armed groups have also moved into coltan operations in Venezuela, which announced the existence of vast reserves of the mineral in 2009.

To try and combat the problem, Colombia has made the mining and export of coltan illegal until it can be properly regulated. President Juan Manuel Santos has also ordered police to step up raids against illicit mining, and in March he announced that the government was considering designating the region in which coltan is mined as a “strategic reserve, for national security reasons.” Venezuela has also outlawed the mining of the mineral, but the evidence suggests that authorities have failed to take serious steps to address coltan mining in the border region.

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

BOLIVIA / 14 SEP 2017

In an annual designation of major drug trafficking and producing nations, US President Donald Trump broke with decades of…

BRAZIL / 6 MAR 2017

Revelations that the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht financed Colombia's FARC rebels deepens the plot of an international corruption scandal, and…

COLOMBIA / 27 MAR 2015

A prosecutor in Colombia will press forward with charges alleging ex-President Alvaro Uribe's security chief helped a convicted drug trafficker…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

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…