HomeNewsBriefEx-FARC Mafia Drives Park Rangers Out of Colombia's Amazon
BRIEF

Ex-FARC Mafia Drives Park Rangers Out of Colombia's Amazon

COLOMBIA / 12 MAR 2020 BY JUAN DIEGO CÁRDENAS EN

Continued threats by criminal groups have led park rangers in Colombia's protected areas of the Amazon rainforest to abandon their posts, leaving these territories to fall under the control of gangs.

In February 2020, at least 20 rangers left their posts in the national parks of Chiribiquete (Caquetá and Guaviare), Cahuinarí (Amazonas), Yaigojé Apaporis (Amazonas), La Paya (Putumayo) and Puré (Amazonas) after reportedly receiving threats by dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC), also known as the ex-FARC Mafia, Colombian media reported. The groups warned the rangers to leave these territories or be killed.

"Your presence is not needed because we will take care of the environmental controls. We already have the respective manuals on resource management, fishing, hunting and felling of timber. We do not want national parks here," was the message that members of the ex-FARC Mafia's Carolina Ramírez Front delivered to park rangers in Chiribiquete national park, Semana reported.

And these are not hollow threats. Yamid Silva, a ranger in the El Cocuy Park in the department of Boyacá, was murdered in early February.

According to a November 2019 report by Mongabay, armed groups pursue a range of criminal economies in these protected areas, especially illegal logging. Since 2017, legal and illegal groups have led deforestation campaigns in the departments of Meta, Magdalena, La Guajira, Cesar, Norte de Santander, Antioquia, Córdoba, Valle del Cauca and Nariño.

But criminal groups are not the only ones carrying out this activity. According to Colombia's Peace and Reconciliation Foundation, "the protected areas and their respective buffer zones are subject to illegal burning and logging by rural farmers who are no longer stopped by an armed actor in the zone, nor by regulation."

SEE ALSO: How Organized Crime Profits from Deforestation in Colombia

The rangers are left all the more vulnerable by the lack of a state presence in many of these remote parks. As InSight Crime has reported, other criminal activities in these parks include growing crops such as coca and marijuana, illegal mining and deforestation in order to build roads to facilitate the movement of illicit goods.  

InSight Crime Analysis

With the rangers gone and other authorities unlikely to act in the parks, criminal groups can operate in these protected areas with increasing impunity, putting Colombia's under-pressure natural wealth at risk. 

Park officials in Amazonas — who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons — told InSight Crime that since the peace agreement with the FARC was signed in 2016 and the group demobilized, drug trafficking has spiked.

The Cotué, Amacayacu and Putumayo rivers, all of which traverse the parks, are mainstays for moving drugs and smuggled gasoline, used in drug processing and illegal mining.  

SEE ALSO: Illegal Mining Behind Mercury Contamination Harming Colombia’s Indigenous

In response, President Iván Duque's government has launched a series of special operations, such as Operation Artemisa that deployed troops to take on these criminal networks and halt deforestation.

But while Artemisa, according to a government review in September 2019 cited by Caracol, has destroyed over 400 coca processing labs and arrested a number of gang members, it has not landed a real blow to the presence of criminal groups in national parks.

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

ARGENTINA / 5 JUL 2022

Why did drug trafficking enjoy such a boom during the COVID-19 pandemic…

COLOMBIA / 11 MAY 2021

Colombia’s current political crisis has led to severe clashes between police and protesters in many of the country’s largest cities.

COLOMBIA / 2 SEP 2021

The Urabeños, one of Colombia's dominant drug groups, are seemingly ramping up operations along the Colombia-Venezuela border – a gambit…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…