HomeNewsBriefCapture Highlights Growing FARC Ties to Criminal Groups
BRIEF

Capture Highlights Growing FARC Ties to Criminal Groups

COLOMBIA / 23 JUL 2015 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Authorities in Ecuador have captured a man alleged to be both a finance chief for Colombia’s FARC guerrillas and the head of a narco-paramilitary gang, highlighting how the distinction between the insurgents and criminal groups is becoming ever more blurred.

On July 20, Ecuadorian authorities announced the capture of Diego Mauricio Mejia Rojas, an alleged finance chief of the 48th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), reported El Universo. The 48th Front operates along Colombia’s southern border with Ecuador.

Colombian police have previously identified Mejia as a key contact between the FARC and the Constru, a local gang of criminalized former paramilitaries. The Constru were believed to have been part of the network of criminal organization the Rastrojos, but in recent years have forged what security forces called a “terrible alliance” with the FARC.

Police said the FARC, acting through Mejia, collaborated with the Constru on drug and arms trafficking. The rebel group has also allegedly contracted the Constru to carry out assassinations, attacks on oil infrastructure and even bombing of police stations, reported WRadio.

However, reports following Mejia’s arrest identified him not as the FARC’s contact for the gang but as the head of the Constru, a position he allegedly rose to after the capture of the group’s principal leader in January.

InSight Crime Analysis

There appears to be some confusion over Mejia’s exact role in the Constru and the FARC, which in itself is a sign of the increasingly blurred line between the guerrillas and the criminal networks with which they have formed alliances.

Such alliances generally begin as business arrangements in trafficking arms and drugs — an agreement the FARC had with the Rastrojos in southwest Colombia at least as far back as 2012.

However, in some parts of the country this appears to have evolved, with the FARC sub-contracting criminal gangs to carry out assassinations, manage extortion networks, and, as allegedly took place in Putumayo, even to conduct activities more commonly associated with their revolutionary war against the state, such as attacks against security forces and infrastructure.

SEE ALSO: The FARC, Peace, and Possible Criminalization

Such alliances may prove to be one of Colombia’s key security challenges if peace talks with FARC leaders currently underway in Havana reach a successful conclusion. In a post-conflict environment, criminal networks — such as the Constru — who are ready to step into the underworld gap left by their departing allies would likely see their ranks boosted by holdout FARC factions. 

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Tags

Related Content

BOLIVIA / 22 DEC 2011

Drug traffickers with close ties to Colombian guerrilla group the FARC are operating in Bolivia, according to the…

COLOMBIA / 25 OCT 2016

Colombia's Defense Minister has voiced serious concerns that the FARC guerrilla group may break apart if the government does not…

COLOMBIA / 22 APR 2015

A former top official for Colombia's customs agency reportedly increased his wealth exponentially by collaborating with smugglers, allegations that, if true,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…