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

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

ALFONSO CANO / 6 JUN 2011

Colombia's Armed Forces killed a FARC guerrilla who was head of security for rebel chief 'Alfonso Cano' in a confrontation…

COLOMBIA / 10 JAN 2011

The two major security challenges facing the Colombian government is rising urban crime rates and the resurgence of the Revolutionary…

COLOMBIA / 5 AUG 2011

Despite assurances by Colombia government that there are no rebel sanctuaries in Venezuela, the leader of a Venezuelan NGO has…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Collaborating on Citizen Security Initiatives

8 JUN 2021

Co-director Steven Dudley worked with Chemonics, a DC-based development firm, to analyze the organization’s citizen security programs in Mexico.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Deepens Its Connections with Universities

31 MAY 2021

A partnership with the University for Peace will complement InSight Crime’s research methodology and expertise on Costa Rica.

THE ORGANIZATION

With Support from USAID, InSight Crime Will Investigate Organized Crime in Haiti

31 MAY 2021

The project will seek to map out Haiti's principal criminal economies, profile the specific groups and actors, and detail their links to elements of the state.

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.