HomeNewsBriefUrabeños’ Financial Setbacks Raises Specter of Violence
BRIEF

Urabeños’ Financial Setbacks Raises Specter of Violence

COLOMBIA / 7 JUL 2015 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

An ongoing offensive by Colombia’s security forces against the Urabeños has resulted in a series of large drug seizures, allegedly crippling the group’s finances and creating internal tensions that raises a strong possibility of future violence.

On July 6, Colombian police announced the seizure of three tons of cocaine the Urabeños had stockpiled near the Panamanian border, reported El Colombiano.

The cocaine — worth an estimated $76 million — consisted of shipments compiled by several Colombian drug trafficking groups, who paid the Urabeños to move the drugs to Central America. There, police say, Mexican cartels were meant to smuggle the cocaine into the United States (where its value was estimated at $100 million).

It is believed Urabeños’ leaders Roberto Vargas Gutierrez, alias “Gavilan,” and Carlos Alberto Moreno Tuberquia, alias “Nicolas” (both of whom were recently indicted by the US) were in charge of coordinating the drug shipment.

The cocaine seizure is the second largest since the government’s offensive against the Urabeños began roughly five months ago. So far, a total of 13 tons of drugs have been seized — representing estimated losses of $330 million for the Urabeños. 

As a result, one anonymous government official said the group is now “desperate for money.” According to an intelligence report cited by El Colombiano, the Urabeños have been behind on payments to their affiliates since February. This includes collaborators in the Uraba region and metropolitian Medellin, known as the Valle de Aburra, as well as associates in Panama and Honduras. 

InSight Crime Analysis

If recent raids against the Urabeños’ drug network have crippled the group’s finances as much as Colombian authorities claim, this may lead to future violence in areas where the group has maintained a strong presence — perhaps most worryingly in Colombia’s second-largest city, Medellin.

After expanding into Medellin, the Urabeños signed a ceasefire in 2013 with the Oficina de Envigado. This cooperation agreement between the two criminal organizations — with the Oficina de Envigado controlling money laundering, micro-trafficking, and extortion in Medellin, and the Urabeños managing large-scale trafficking — led to a dramatic drop in the city’s violence levels.

SEE ALSO: Urabeños News and Profiles

Yet the criminal truce in Medellin is delicate. If the Urabeños prove unable to pay their affiliates in the city — such as the Oficinas de Cobro (collection offices) that they subcontract — this could lead to the breaking of peace. And eventually, other criminal factions could reorganize and move to fill the vacuum left by the Urabeños. Such a possiblity is further exacerbated by government pressure leading to the capture of many of the Urabeños’ top leaders.

In addition to these reports suggesting the Urabeños are being hit where it hurts most (financially), there are other signs that Colombia’s security forces have upped their game against the Urabeños. Police were able to seize the three tons of cocaine after receiving a tip-off from an informant, according to El Tiempo. This is one sign that the Urabeños are having trouble stopping collaborators from providing the government with sensitive information on the group’s operations.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

COCAINE / 2 MAR 2021

With higher profits and lower risks than the United States, Europe has emerged recently as arguably the most important cocaine…

COLOMBIA / 15 MAY 2020

Despite having the world's largest oil reserves, years of mismanagement and theft have led Venezuela to a bizarre turn of…

COLOMBIA / 5 AUG 2011

Kidnapping in Colombia went up 30 percent in the first half of 2011, according to the anti-kidnapping NGO…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…