HomeNewsBriefPanama Warns of Incursion of Colombian BACRIM: Report
BRIEF

Panama Warns of Incursion of Colombian BACRIM: Report

COLOMBIA / 9 JUL 2014 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

Panama's border control agency has warned that Colombian criminal groups descended from the paramilitaries are increasingly using the country as a trafficking route, corrupting officials and influencing local gangs, according to a report.

Panama America website quoted Frank Abrego, head of border control agency Senafront, as saying that the "highly dangerous" BACRIM groups "seek to enter our territory unnoticed; causing an increase in the trafficking of drugs, people and weapons, as well as ... corruption and the mutation of identified local groups."

A report by the border agency, reportedly seen by Panama America, said the presence of Colombian BACRIM groups (named for the Spanish for "criminal bands") may be behind a surge in drug-related violence the country has seen over the past few years.

Abrego also reportedly told the site that the BACRIM in Panama operate via the "hormigueo" (ant hill) method, in which individuals transport small drug loads on their backs in groups of 15 to 80 people. Abrego said that the criminal gangs sometimes pass themselves off as members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) or as government officials.bacrim panama

InSight Crime Analysis

The incursion of Colombia's BACRIM groups -- which formed following the demobilization of paramilitary organizations in 2006 -- into Panama has been reported for several years. These groups include Colombia's most powerful neo-paramilitary group, the Urabeños, which operates near the border region.

According to Colombian police intelligence sources consulted by InSight Crime, the Urabeños deliver drug shipments to members of the FARC's 57th Front near the border. The guerrillas then transport the cargo into Panama, where they pass the shipments on to other Urabeños members.

The same source stated that one of the leaders of Medellin's Oficina de Envigado, Carlos Arturo Hernandez, alias "Duncan" or "Jeronimo," is currently running operations for the organization in Panama.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Panama

Other Colombian criminal leaders have also established a presence across the border. Before he was killed by Colombian police in 2013, a member of the Urabeños' top command, Francisco Jose Morela Peñate, alias "El Negro Sarley," relocated to Panama to oversee part of the organization's operations there. In February 2013, one of the leaders of Medellin's Oficina de Envigado, Edison Rodolfo Rojas, alias "Pichi," was arrested in Panama City.

In June, the Senafront arrested a Colombian national and discovered a temporary camp that may have belonged to the BACRIM in Panama's eastern border region known as the Darien gap, reported El Tiempo. 

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

COCA / 19 MAY 2016

US government figures reveal that the continuing cocaine boom in Colombia has seen the northeastern department of Norte de Santander…

COLOMBIA / 25 APR 2017

A former associate of Pablo Escobar was killed in Colombia's second-largest city, leading to speculation that he continued to traffic…

COLOMBIA / 18 NOV 2014

Police footage shows how Colombian police confront contraband runners along the Caribbean coast, from chasing down speeding trucks loaded with…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…