HomeNewsBriefColombia Soldiers Allegedly Sold Weapons to FARC’s Most Brutal Unit
BRIEF

Colombia Soldiers Allegedly Sold Weapons to FARC’s Most Brutal Unit

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 1 MAY 2015 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

Authorities in Colombia have arrested a group of soldiers accused of providing arms to the FARC, raising questions over both the sources of the guerrilla group’s weapons and the extent of the problem in the armed forces.

On April 29, Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office announced the detention of seven soldiers and six civilians for allegedly smuggling weapons and military supplies to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), criminal organizations known as BACRIM (from the Spanish for criminal bands), and common criminals, reported El Universal.

According to El Espectador, the arrests were the result of an investigation that began in September 2013 following the capture of an individual carrying 8,000 rounds of ammunition that belonged to the army’s First Brigade and were allegedly destined for the FARC’s 10th Front. 

Investigators determined that the group — which consisted of 20 people — began trafficking weapons in 2012. Seven of these individuals were active service military, while three were retired soldiers. Another nine members of the network were affiliated with the FARC. 

To remove the weapons from military stockpiles, the soldiers issued false reports indicating the loss of supplies. In two years, the group stole an estimated 100,000 cartridges, 1,000 grenades, 30 rifles, and 10 machine guns. In addition to working with the FARC’s 10th Front, the network also allegedly smuggled weapons to the 6th Front and Teofilo Forero mobile column.

InSight Crime Analysis

The discovery of an arms trafficking ring involving members of the Colombian military raises concerns that other soldiers could also be selling military supplies to guerrilla groups and criminal organizations. 

Indeed, this scandal is not without precedent, and high-ranking Colombian army officials have previously been accused of selling weapons to criminal groups including the Urabeños.

In the past, the FARC have demonstrated a high degree of resourcefulness in securing arms, with neighboring Ecuador serving as an especially important source of weapons for the group. The FARC have also reached out to international arms dealers in order to purchase weapons, and even allegedly tried to obtain a $100 million loan from former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in order to buy surface-to-air missiles, according to e-mails recovered from the computer of deceased FARC commander Luis Edgar Devia Silva, alias “Raul Reyes.” Some FARC fronts, including the 6th Front, have also exchanged drugs for weapons with criminal groups like the Rastrojos. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Arms Trafficking

Although widespread animosity towards the FARC among Colombian soldiers would presumably limit the extent of weapons sales to the group, the fact that the soldiers involved in the most recent scandal were allegedly trafficking weapons to the Teofilo Forero Column is a disturbing development for the army. This column is considered to be the FARC’s elite unit and was responsible for the 2003 Club El Nogal bombing in Bogota as well as a number of assassination attempts targeting Colombian officials — including former President Alvaro Uribe.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 17 NOV 2014

Colombia's president has suspended a two-year peace process with the FARC guerrillas after the kidnapping of an army general, amid…

COLOMBIA / 15 JUL 2015

President Nicolas Maduro announced the creation of a new special forces unit meant to fight Colombian neo-paramilitary groups operating inside…

COLOMBIA / 22 APR 2015

A former top official for Colombia's customs agency reportedly increased his wealth exponentially by collaborating with smugglers, allegations that, if true,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…