HomeNewsBriefColombia's Counter-Drug Efforts Increasingly Complicated by Landmines
BRIEF

Colombia's Counter-Drug Efforts Increasingly Complicated by Landmines

COLOMBIA / 15 DEC 2010 BY INSIGHT CRIME EN

As drug trafficking organizations make aerial eradication more difficult, authorities must rely on manual eradication, in which they are vulnerable to sniper attacks and, increasingly, landmines.  Colombia is leading South America in annual landmine deaths, and is second only to Afghanistan in the number of mine victims globally.

As the BBC reports, landmines have claimed the lives of 1,938 people since 1990. While Colombian government figures indicate that the majority of victims were police officers and soldiers, nearly 40 percent of those killed were civilians. According to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a disproportionate amount of those victims are children, who often mistake unearthed mines as toys.

Drug producers are increasingly growing coca in isolated areas, often hidden in dense plots of legal crops such as plantain. This forces authorities to launch extensive manual eradication campaigns, in which they must cut out coca plants with hoes or spray them with pesticides.  Such operations are extremely dangerous, as eradication teams are frequently targeted by armed groups.

In a recent report by Colombia’s Caracol news agency, a spokesperson for the Army’s Health Batallion claimed that around 800 soldiers were wounded in 2010 by landmines laid by the guerrilla groups.

This increasing violence has led the military to seek unconventional de-mining alternatives. According to the Los Angeles Times, next year the government will begin to use squads of trained rats to locate and uncover land mines. Although the rats are said to be more effective than bomb-sniffing dogs, it remains to be seen whether they will become a widespread tool, or if their use will significantly impact de-mining efforts in the country.

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

COLOMBIA / 30 JAN 2017

Less than half of the FARC guerrillas have moved into the concentration zones where they are scrambling to meet a…

COLOMBIA / 3 APR 2018

The recent arrest in Colombia of two veteran air traffic controllers linked to Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel has once again highlighted…

COLOMBIA / 5 FEB 2013

More than 20,000 kilos of cement, thought to be intended for cocaine production in Colombia, were seized by Ecuadorean…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…