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

CHINA AND CRIME / 11 SEP 2015

An enormous money laundering scheme in China involving Colombian nationals highlights the growing interaction between Chinese and Latin American…

COLOMBIA / 5 AUG 2016

The story of an Italian criminal who is to be extradited from Colombia back to his home country indicates Italy's…

MEXICO / 23 SEP 2020

The United States is calling for authorities in Mexico to intensify their crack down on the country’s organized crime groups,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela’s Tren de Aragua Becomes Truly Transnational

29 JUL 2022

This week, InSight Crime published a deep dive into the total control that Venezuelan mega-gang, Tren de Aragua, has over the lives of those it smuggles between Venezuela and Chile…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkish Traffickers Delivering Latin American Cocaine to Persian Gulf

15 JUL 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the second half of an investigation piecing together the emerging role of Turkish cocaine traffickers in supplying Russia and the Persian Gulf, which are among…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkey as a Lynchpin in European Cocaine Pipeline

8 JUL 2022

InSight Crime is extending its investigation into the cocaine pipeline to Europe, and tracking the growing connections between Latin American drug traffickers and European criminal organizations. This led us to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Memo Fantasma Coverage Gets Worldwide Attention

1 JUL 2022

Guillermo Acevedo, the former Colombian drug lord and paramilitary commander better known as Memo Fantasma, may soon be allowed to leave prison. Since first revealing the identity of Memo Fantasma…

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…