HomeNewsBriefGrenade Attack in Colombia Raises Specter of New Emerald War
BRIEF

Grenade Attack in Colombia Raises Specter of New Emerald War

COLOMBIA / 14 NOV 2013 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

The man believed to have replaced “Emerald Czar” Victor Carranza as the most powerful figure in Colombia’s emerald trade has named the rivals he blames for a recent attempt on his life, moving Colombia closer to a new “Green War.”

On November 9, four people died and nine were injured in a grenade attack in the emerald mining region of Boyaca that authorities believe was targeting Pedro Rincon, alias “Pedro Orejas.”

Speaking in radio interviews, Rincon blamed enemies in the emerald trade for the attack, suggesting the Murcia and Cañon clans were the most likely culprits.

Rincon added he did not believe the family of Victor Carranza, who until his death in April had dominated the emerald trade, was behind the violence. He added that another emerald mining family, the Molinas, was also breaking the pact between the principal emerald clans and looking to expand their influence.

InSight Crime Analysis

Colombia’s lightly regulated emerald trade has long been a sector that straddles the line between the legal and illegal worlds. Regulated sales represent just a fraction of the profits on offer, with illegal sales and opportunities for laundering drug profits the real attraction for many.

For decades, the unchecked trade has attracted murky characters, from Carranza himself, who was suspected of operating his own private army and having ties to paramilitary groups, to drug traffickers such as Pablo Escobar and his associate Jose Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, alias “El Mexicano.”

The explosive mix of powerful criminals and vast profits led to frequent bloodletting, which erupted in the 1980s in a series of “Green Wars,” which claimed over three thousands lives.

In 1990 a peace agreement was brokered between Carranza and other major players in the emerald trade, which curbed the violence and left Carranza with a firm control over the sector and a critical role as guarantor of the peace.

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

Even before Carranza’s death there were signs this peace was fracturing, and in one of his final acts, Carranza wrote to main rival Rincon — who he blamed for a murder and attacks — pleading with him to respect the peace deal.

With Carranza gone, Rincon is now widely believed to be the most powerful figure in the emerald trade. However, his influence pales in comparison to that enjoyed by Carranza, and fears have mounted that rival clans will challenge his status. The latest attack vindicates these fears, and may well prove to be the opening salvos of a new “Green War.”

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.

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 12 AUG 2015

Authorities in Colombia have arrested a high-level judicial official for attempting to smuggle at least $1 million in alleged drug…

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2013

A week after surviving a grenade attack, Colombia's "New Emerald Czar" has been arrested for links to organized crime and…

COLOMBIA / 19 JAN 2015

Colombia's Attorney General's Office announced the results of an investigation involving an illegal network that had allegedly laundered $1 billion…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

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. …