An attack on police in Colombia that was allegedly coordinated by the FARC and the Gaitanistas suggests a new relationship may be emerging between the rebel army and the BACRIM group.
Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon and President Juan Manuel Santos have attributed a September 16 attack that left seven police dead and seven others wounded in the Cordoba province to the 58th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Gaitanistas criminal group, also known as the Gulf Clan, Urabeños, and Gaitanist Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia – AGC), reported Semana. The police were conducting a morning patrol in the town of Montelibano when they were ambushed, reported EFE.
“This crime will not go unpunished,” announced President Santos in a statement he gave at the Presidential Palace.
According to Semana, the attack was retaliation for a September 5 gun battle with security forces in which AGC leader Dario Antonio Usuga, alias “Otoniel,” sustained injuries. The offensive against the police was allegedly ordered by the third-ranking member of the AGC, Cesar Daniel Anaya Martinez, alias “Tierra,” who was captured by police in a rural part of the Antioquia province on September 7.
InSight Crime Analysis
If allegations the FARC and the AGC are committing coordinated attacks are true, this may signal a new level of cooperation between the left-wing guerrilla army and the BACRIM group (from the Spanish abbreviation for “criminal band”). Until now, the FARC have been content to sell their coca base to the highest bidder, and to remain on the sidelines as the BACRIM groups have fought each other for power.
Unlike their paramilitary predecessors, BACRIM groups have not been interested in fighting the FARC for control of coca crops. To the contrary, the AGC and other BACRIM have been known to buy coca base from the rebel group. In 2013, an emissary from the FARC’s 58th Front and members of the AGC were captured in a drug laboratory together.
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However, this appears to be the first report of coordinated attacks by the two groups, suggesting their ties may now be extending beyond business negotiations. InSight Crime has previously predicted that some elements of the guerrillas could break away from the FARC hierarchy in order to continue conducting criminal activities, rather than adhering to any peace agreement that might emerge from talks being conducted with the government in Cuba. As this dialogue progresses, it is possible that some FARC factions are already looking to join forces with existing criminal networks, such as the AGC.