HomeNewsBriefRastrojos Arms Bust Points to Venezuela Military Connection
BRIEF

Rastrojos Arms Bust Points to Venezuela Military Connection

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 19 JUL 2012 BY CHRISTOPHER LOOFT EN

Colombia police have seized weapons from criminal gang the Rastrojos which include guns reportedly traced to the Venezuelan military, hinting at a connection between the neo-paramilitary group and elements of Venezuela's army.

During the operation, which took place just a few miles from Colombia's border with Venezuela, police seized 55 firearms, including M-16, AK-47, and FAL rifles, among others, said Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon. According to a report by El Universal, the weapons had Venezuelan military markings.

Authorities also seized 10,000 rifle cartridges, according to a Globovision/EFE report. In addition to the arms seized, police destroyed two cocaine processing laboratories capable of producing three tons of the drug a month, El Tiempo reported.

The operation in the Norte de Santander department follows the seizure of 29 weapons earlier this year in Cucuta, the department's capital.

InSight Crime Analysis

Judging by the description of these weapons, and a photo, above, of some of them laid out on a table, they appear to be mostly FAL rifles from Venezuelan military stockpiles. While it does not appear that these weapons have come from Venezuela's new arms factory, there is an important connection. Amid an ambitious military modernization program, Venezuela is purchasing or building hundreds of thousands of new weapons, emphasizing the AK-103 assault rifle, which reduces the need to maintain its old arms caches.

This likely contributes to what appears to be a flow of guns from older military stockpiles into the hands of the Rastrojos. Given that the FARC traditionally has better contacts to procure arms supplies from the Venezuelan military, the fact that the Rastrojos have obtained old military equipment may hint at an increased flow of decommissioned or limited-use Venezuelan weapons into Colombia.

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

BOLIVIA / 13 MAY 2021

Smuggling networks are feeding illegal mining operations across the Amazon Basin with mercury, despite global efforts to clamp down on…

COLECTIVOS / 2 MAR 2021

An increase in the number of reports of illegal invasions of homes and commercial establishments in Venezuela during the pandemic…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 28 JUN 2022

In its latest bid to curb the flow of illegal firearms and ensuing violence, Jamaica has turned to the United…

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…