HomeNewsBriefELN Likely to Quickly Move Past Uriel's Death in Colombia
BRIEF

ELN Likely to Quickly Move Past Uriel's Death in Colombia

COLOMBIA / 27 OCT 2020 BY JUAN CAMILO JARAMILLO EN

The killing of ELN commander Uriel -- a well-known figure often seen in propaganda videos and press reports -- is a visible win for Colombia’s security forces, but it won’t have much impact on the guerrilla group as a whole.

On October 25, Andrés Felipe Vanegas Londoño, alias “Uriel” or “Pedro,” was killed in a joint operation by the military and police in the municipality of Nóvita, in the northern department of Chocó. He was a leader within the Western War Front (Frente de Guerra Occidental) of the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional -- ELN).

In a video statement about the operation, President Iván Duque confirmed his death, saying that Uriel "was responsible for crimes such as the kidnapping and killing of social leaders, persecution and threats, ... the killing of soldiers and police officers, and ... encouraging the recruitment of minors.”

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profile

ELN negotiator Luz Amanda Pallares, alias “Silvana Guerrero," sent a message to the ELN rank and file about Uriel's death.

The Colombian government considered Vanegas Londoño to be a high-priority military target, offering a reward of 500 million pesos (around $130,000) for his capture.

InSight Crime Analysis

Uriel's killing is one of the most severe blows dealt by the Colombian government to the ELN in recent years. But it is likely an isolated victory, as it will do little to halt the transnational spread of arguably Latin America’s most powerful criminal syndicate.

Though highly visible, Vanegas Londoño served more as a local leader than a national one.

“It is a definite loss at a strategic, regional level, but it absolutely does not affect the ELN’s national dynamics. Like all regional commanders, Uriel took on various responsibilities, but he was more involved in the propaganda and ideology side [than military operations]. In a certain way, he was a public relations figure for the ELN,” Luis Fernando Trejos, a researcher at Colombia’s Universidad del Norte, told InSight Crime.

SEE ALSO: The ELN’s Repeated Demands for a Ceasefire in Colombia

Several ELN top leaders have continued to hole up in Cuba since peace talks with the Colombian government were stopped in early 2019. Uriel's killing, however, underscores that the government has no intention of returning to any form of negotiations, despite repeated attempts by the criminal group to seek a ceasefire.

Vanegas Londoño was particularly important to the ELN’s Western War Front, where he was reportedly third-in-command, under the leadership of Ogli Ángel Padilla, alias “Fabián.” This front is considered the second-most powerful within the ELN after the Eastern War Front (Frente de Guerra Oriental), under the command of Gustavo Anibal Giraldo, alias “Pablito.” The Western War Front is estimated to have about 800 men, including 500 active militants and 300 in various support networks, according to Colombian media reports.

Besides being one of the ELN’s most well-known figures on social media, Uriel oversaw the group’s political and ideological work. From southern Chocó, he was charged with recruiting members from rural and Indigenous communities in western Colombia.

The ELN has been fighting a long and bitter turf war to control prime drug trafficking real estate in Chocó against the Urabeños, a trafficking group and paramilitary force. Some analysts have suggested that Uriel’s death may, at least temporarily, destabilize the ELN in the area.

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

JALISCO CARTEL / 17 DEC 2021

The United States and Mexico have officially entered a new phase of their partnership to tackle transnational organized crime groups…

COLOMBIA / 3 OCT 2022

While now comfortably established in two countries, the ELN have a chance to return to the negotiating table, according to…

COCAINE / 9 FEB 2021

In 1989, Los Angeles police transformed Europe's cocaine trade when they broke open a padlock guarding a Californian warehouse.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…