HomeNewsBriefColombia’s ELN, Ex-FARC Mafia Recruiting Hungry Venezuela Migrants
BRIEF

Colombia’s ELN, Ex-FARC Mafia Recruiting Hungry Venezuela Migrants

COLOMBIA / 16 OCT 2018 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

Reports that criminal groups in Colombia are increasingly recruiting migrants from Venezuela shows how these armed actors are taking advantage of those fleeing the neighboring country’s economic crisis in order to strengthen their criminal structures.

In the last three months, authorities in Colombia have recorded 27 cases where migrants from Venezuela were recruited by members of the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN) and dissident members of the largely demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC), according to General Helder Giraldo from the 8th Division of the Colombian Army, El Colombiano reported.

The ELN’s Domingo Láin Sáenz Front and ex-FARC mafia networks -- mainly bands of dissident former FARC fighters comprised of members from the now-disbanded 1st and 28th Fronts -- are recruiting those fleeing from Venezuela into the ranks of their groups to partake in criminal activities along the border, according to General Giraldo.

The general emphasized that criminal groups are taking advantage of the poverty facing Venezuelan migrants. Some of them have been caught in the middle of extortion activities, as well as drug and arms trafficking, while others have died in confrontations with soldiers.

InSight Crime Analysis

Although the information published in El Colombiano offers more detail about the recruitment of Venezuelan migrants, these reports are not new. The Venezuelan non-governmental organization Fundación Redes has reported throughout 2018 on the ELN's presence in Venezuela and even the group’s recruitment of children from schools.

In some cases, those fleeing are threatened or pressured by criminal groups to join their ranks. But the forced exodus of Venezuelans has allowed these armed groups to prey on the hunger and desperation of those fleeing for other purposes as well.

SEE ALSO: Restrictions on Venezuela Migrants Boost Criminal Networks

Citizens living in the border towns of Venezuela's western Táchira state claim that those being recruited are from remote regions of Venezuela where they do not have enough money to eat. Armed criminal groups operating in the border region offer them an opportunity to earn money, something that many have never had in their home country.

Sources along the Colombia-Venezuela border told InSight Crime that those recruited by armed groups receive up to 50,000 Venezuelan bolívares per month (around $300 at the current exchange rate). This is equivalent to more than 27 monthly minimum wages in Venezuela (one month's minimum salary is around $12).

It is in this context that fleeing Venezuelans have to choose between hunger or joining the ranks of organized crime groups, which is helping them strengthen and reorganize their criminal structures while also facilitating the spread of their illegal activities into Venezuela.

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 / 18 MAY 2021

The killing of a notorious Colombian dissident guerrilla leader on Venezuelan soil has the potential to destabilize underworld dynamics in…

COLOMBIA / 18 AUG 2021

Seizures of coltan in Colombia have shown the complex networks used by armed groups to smuggle the valuable mineral from…

COLOMBIA / 13 SEP 2022

President Petro's Total Peace Plan offers high reward but carries equally high risk for criminal groups and for all of…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…