Colombia's security forces seized 1.4 tons of cocaine from the FARC rebels believed to be destined for Sinaloa Cartel contacts near the Panama border, an indication that Mexican groups are getting closer to buying at the source.
Colombian anti-drug forces stopped members of the 57th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the Choco province, entering a region known as the Darien Gap along the Panama border carrying the cocaine, reported El Tiempo.
Over 100 members of the Embera indigenous group, who authorities said had been paid by the FARC to each transport two kilos of cocaine in their backpacks, were detained with the rebels.
Authorities believe that the drugs were headed to Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, based on information that Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's cousin had been operating in the Panamanian border region. The cousin was part of the cartel's quality control team, said the army's anti-drug brigade commander Jorge Mora.
SEE ALSO: Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Profile
InSight Crime Analysis
The FARC has worked with the Sinaloa Cartel for years. Last March, the rebels were selling off drug franchises to the Mexican group. InSight Crime also received reports during 2012 field investigations that drug deals between the two groups have taken place in the Colombia-Ecuador border region, but the use of the Panama border for this purpose appears to be relatively new.
What is also new is that the Sinaloa Cartel may be expanding its presence in Colombia, trying to get closer to the raw materials of production and thus control more of the profits across the distribution chain. This could help explain the cartel's presence at the Panama border, an important route for drug shipments.
The dense jungle region of the Darien Gap is an operational center for the FARC's 57th Front, which is deeply involved in cocaine trafficking, and coca plantations recently found on the Panama side of the border were likely linked to the group.
SEE ALSO: FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization