Colombian naval forces seized more than 1.5 tons of cocaine thought to belong to the FARC and the Rastrojos in the southwestern department of Nariño.
In a joint operation between the navy and investigators from the Prosecutor General's office, 1,548 kilograms of cocaine reportedly belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Rastrojos drug gang was discovered in a rural area of La Tola municipality, some 100 kilometers from the port city of Tumaco, reported Spanish news agency EFE.
According to authorities, the drugs were found in 77 branded bags, apparently ready for international shipment, and would have had a street value of $38 million.
In a separate operation, Colombia's armed forces found a store of 1,004 explosive devices in the municipality of Tumaco, allegedly the property of the FARC.
InSight Crime Analysis
Police claims that the cocaine was part of a Rastrojos-FARC alliance suggests a new dynamic in the region. Though the two groups have been known to cooperate in other areas of Colombia where it serves each others' interests, the southwestern area of Tumaco, Nariño has previously been reported to be the site of a Rastrojos-National Liberation Army (ELN) alliance.
This highlights, more importantly, the crucial nature of Nariño -- particularly the port city of Tumaco -- as a strategic area of operations for drug trafficking groups in Colombia. The municipality of Tumaco has the highest rate of coca production in Colombia, thus making it a hub for criminal operations. It is also one of the most violent areas of the country, with over 100 homicides registered per 100,000 residents. Recent attacks, such as the bombing in Tumaco by the FARC earlier this month, attest to this.
No one group has been able to stake a claim to Tumaco, as is the case in other criminal strongholds throughout Colombia. If the Rastrojos and the FARC deepen their alliance here -- working more closely together in the drug trade, or carrying out joint attacks against the security forces -- it could be interpreted as a survival strategy. A Rastrojos-FARC-ELN war over control of an area as important as Tumaco would be intercenine; and neither group can afford to waste resources here.
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