HomeNewsBriefFARC Sold Cocaine to Panama Drug Ring
BRIEF

FARC Sold Cocaine to Panama Drug Ring

FARC / 30 APR 2012 BY CHRISTOPHER LOOFT EN

Panamanian authorities say the FARC rebel group worked with a trafficking ring with operations in Panama, pointing to permanent guerrilla presence in the country, and to its importance for the rebels' business and logistics networks.

Javier Carabello, Panama's top anti-drugs prosecutor, told Prensa that the investigation into the trafficking ring began when its operations were discovered in Costa Rica in 2010. Since then, 55 alleged members have been arrested in Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia and Nicaragua.

In November 2011, Costa Rican authorities warned their Panamanian counterparts that the group was making an illicit cash transfer bound for their country. Since then, Panama has arrested two of its own citizens and six Colombians in connection with the case.

The prosecutor said that the group was supplied with cocaine by the 30th Front of the FARC, and that it used land as well as maritime routes to send the drug to Mexico, trafficking it overland through Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.

The group's leader, Colombian national Walter Renteria Cuero, was in Panama with two lieutenants in March 2012, but evaded arrest. Renteria was murdered in Cali, Colombia a few days later and his lieutenants were arrested in Costa Rica.

InSight Crime Analysis

This case demonstrates Panama's importance as a route for trafficking Colombian cocaine north to Central America, as the only land link between the two. The country is also logistically crucial for the FARC, whose 57th Front has camps over the border.

The rebels are attracted by the relative weakness of the Panamanian authorities -- the country has no military -- especially in the lawless Darien Gap region between the two countries. This allows the FARC to operate in relative peace; two camps destroyed in a recent joint operation were larger and more permanent than those now found in Colombia.· In Colombia camps are often small and transient, as the rebels keep on the move to avoid air raids by the military.

The 30th Front are major players in the drug trade, based in Valle del Cauca province on Colombia's Pacific coast. The size and scope of the organization whose members were arrested across four countries indicate that the FARC chose a powerful partner to traffic its cocaine. The loss of this partnership is likely to be a setback for the rebel group, which still relies heavily on drug revenues despite having diversified its income, most notably with illegal mining.

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.

Tags

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

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 13 MAY 2014

Illegal mining, Colombian armed criminal groups and common crime are the three main markets for Ecuador's illegal arms trade, according…

COLOMBIA / 18 FEB 2014

Guatemala has extradited a woman reported to have served as a link between Colombia's rebels and international drug trafficking organizations,…

COLOMBIA / 14 NOV 2016

Forty days after Colombia rejected a peace agreement between the government and FARC rebels, a second deal has been signed…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…