HomeNewsBriefInvestigation Shows Colombia Military-Criminal Arms Trafficking Ties
BRIEF

Investigation Shows Colombia Military-Criminal Arms Trafficking Ties

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 4 MAR 2014 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Prosecutors in Colombia have issued a warrant for a high-ranking army official who stands accused of leading a ring that sold military weapons to narco-paramilitary group the Urabeños, highlighting a common source of weapons for armed groups across the region.

Lieutenant Colonel Robinson Gonzalez del Rio led a group of four active members of the military, four retired members, two police and several private citizens that acquired guns, munitions and explosives for Colombia's leading criminal organization, according to the Attorney General's office.

The ring would source arms parts from military caches around the country, before delivering them to the Urabeños using military transport to avoid detection. Weapons experts within the network would assemble the arms, and even manufacture any missing parts.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Arms Trafficking

Suspicion fell on Gonzalez del Rio following the recent release of recordings of top military officials discussing corrupt dealings, in which he made reference to the sale of munitions. Gonzalez del Rio has already been arrested on separate charges related to extra-judicial killings and is currently in prison in Bogota.

Warrants have been issued for 13 former and current military personnel so far, but investigators believe the number of people involved in the network may be much higher, reported Semana.

InSight Crime Analysis

While Colombian prosecutors were targeting Gonzalez del Rio, their counterparts in El Salvador offered a reminder that the case is far from unique by taking similar action against Elmer Espinoza Hercules, an army major accused of stealing military arms and looking to sell them to Guatemalan and Mexican drug traffickers.

These cases are just the latest in a long line of incidents showing how security forces are a major source of weapons for armed groups, with the militaries throughout the region, including in PeruArgentina and Mexico, all implicated in arms trafficking in recent years.

In Colombia, the fact that Gonzalez del Rio was supplying the Urabeños echoes of the era in which the military provided significant logistical support to the group's paramilitary predecessors, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), and is a reminder that ties between the military and paramilitary successor groups persist today.

However, when it comes to arms trafficking, corrupt factions of the Colombian military have shown in the past they are happy to cross the ideological divide, and have even sold arms to their sworn enemies in leftist guerrilla groups.

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

COLOMBIA / 18 MAY 2016

The arrest of an Interpol agent who allegedly colluded with the Urabeños is fresh proof that Colombia's principal transnational drug…

COCA / 3 AUG 2017

Colombia's government is intent on passing a law that will grant a one-year judicial immunity for small-scale coca farmers who…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 20 SEP 2011

Reports of FBI agents allowing drugs to be smuggled over the Mexican border, and working for years with a top…

About InSight Crime

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…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…