HomeNewsBriefELN Cocaine Seizure Points to Expanding Presence on Colombia's Pacific Coast
BRIEF

ELN Cocaine Seizure Points to Expanding Presence on Colombia's Pacific Coast

COCAINE / 20 MAR 2017 BY TRISTAN CLAVEL EN

Authorities seized around 1.5 metric tons of cocaine linked to the ELN rebels in Colombia's Chocó department, the latest sign that the group is expanding by absorbing territory and dissidents of the demobilizing FARC guerrillas.

Colombia's military discovered the sizable cocaine shipment on March 19 along the Pacific coast of the Juradó municipality in Chocó, near the border with Panama, EFE reported. The shipment, reportedly belonging to Colombia's second largest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN), appears to have been headed to Central America.

Meanwhile, a report published March 13 by the Colombian foundation Ideas para la Paz warned that the ELN is expanding in at least five departments by taking over illegal operations previously controlled by the demobilizing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC), the country's largest guerrilla movement. Chocó appears among these areas, along with the department of Nariño, the Bajo Cauca region of Antioquia department, Norte de Santander's Catatumbo subregion, and the Cauca department.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the FARC Peace Process

In addition, in Cauca's Toribío municipality, FARC dissidents have allegedly joined the ELN group, according to local testimonies reported by Colombia's El País. The reports appear to confirm previous warnings that the FARC peace process could impact ELN activities in certain parts of the country.

InSight Crime Analysis

Colombian authorities had already seized a record-breaking four metric tons of cocaine from the ELN in January 2017 in Nariño, which supported the notion that the guerrilla group was assuming control of former FARC territories in that area. The latest seizure near the Panama border could indicate a replication of the this trend in Chocó -- another key department, given its Pacific coastline and its border with Panama -- at a time when Colombia is believed to be producing more cocaine than ever before.

In addition to the January seizure in Nariño, the department's key transshipment port of Tumaco has recently suffered from an outbreak of violence as criminal groups including the ELN battled for control of the port. InSight Crime field investigations have uncovered evidence that the ELN has taken over much of the FARC's system of "taxing" drug production in Nariño, the department with Colombia's highest levels of coca cultivation.

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

Not only does the latest seizure add to evidence of the ELN's expansion in Chocó, but El País' report of FARC dissidents joining the rebel group could mean a worrying transfer of more than just territory between the two guerrilla movements. The ELN may also be inheriting the FARC's extensive operational knowledge regarding an array of criminal activities, built over decades of managing the drug trade.

As InSight Crime previously noted, these developments are likely to have considerable consequences for the ELN's incipient peace talks with Colombia's government. The considerable illegal profits that can be earned in the drug trade add to doubts about the ELN leadership's ability to ensure that rank-and-file members will abide by an eventual peace deal.

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 / 7 NOV 2019

FARC dissidents massacred a group of indigenous guards protecting a reserve in Colombia's southwestern department of Cauca, adding to the…

COLOMBIA / 7 NOV 2011

Colombia's mining and energy minister said unlicensed mining "should be given the same treatment as drug trafficking," due to the…

COLOMBIA / 21 MAY 2013

While there is no doubt that the FARC have only a tenuous control over some of their more remote fronts,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…

THE ORGANIZATION

Coverage of Fallen Paraguay Prosecutor Makes Headlines

20 MAY 2022

The murder of leading anti-crime prosecutor, Marcelo Pecci, while on honeymoon in Colombia, has drawn attention to the evolution of organized crime in Paraguay. While 17 people have been arrested…