HomeNewsBriefUrabeños Landmines are Guerrilla Tactic from Colombia’s Dark Past
BRIEF

Urabeños Landmines are Guerrilla Tactic from Colombia's Dark Past

COLOMBIA / 14 JUN 2019 BY MÓNICA BETANCUR EN

The seizure of 563 anti-personnel landmines suspected of belonging to the Urabeños has fueled speculation that the powerful Colombian drug trafficking organization has renewed a notorious practice long associated with guerrilla forces.

Authorities dismantled the alleged Urabeños landmine production site in a rural area of Riosucio in Chocó department, near the country's border with Panama, El Colombiano reported.

All 563 landmines were disarmed, though authorities said the devices were set to be deployed in the territory where the group is fighting guerrillas from the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN) for control. There are also strong suspicions that the ELN has deployed landmines as part of this same conflict.

SEE ALSO: Urabeños News and Profile

General Juan Carlos Ramírez explained that “the Urabeños were intending to use [the mines] to cover their drug trafficking corridors in northern Chocó [as well as protecting] cocaine paste production and cocaine chlorohydrate."

The mines were also likely to be used to scare people living in communities along the border between Chocó and Antioquia, where the Urabeños have been fighting with the ELN since 2018 to take over territory left behind by the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC), according to El Tiempo.

InSight Crime Analysis

Prior to the Colombian government and the FARC signing a peace agreement in 2016,  Colombia had one highest landmine mortality and injury rates in the world.

The Office of Colombia's High Commissioner for Peace, the institution responsible for demining operations in the country, reported that from 1990 until March 31, 2019, Colombia tallied 11,375 victims of landmines, 2,293 of whom died.

SEE ALSO: Colombia Finally Gets Serious About Tackling Los Urabeños

The number of people who suffered landmine injuries dropped to 89 in 2016 and then to 57 in 2017, the lowest number recorded. But incidents tripled in 2018, according to the Red Cross.

And while the Colombian government tallied 178 cases of landmine victims in 2018, the Red Cross counted more, with 221 cases. So far this year, 58 incidents have been reported.

While a growing number of municipalities in Colombia have been declared free of landmines, forests and nature reserves in Chocó and Antioquia remain peppered with them.

Some of these mines may be new, with the ex-FARC Mafia or Urabeños once again planting them to protect drug routes and coca cultivations. And communities in these regions suffer the consequences, exposing children to the deadly devices and confining families to their villages.

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

COLOMBIA / 5 FEB 2013

More than 20,000 kilos of cement, thought to be intended for cocaine production in Colombia, were seized by Ecuadorean…

COLOMBIA / 9 AUG 2011

The strategic Colombian peninsula of La Guajira, a sought after departure point for drugs heading across the Caribbean, may be…

COLOMBIA / 12 JUL 2017

The first census of the ex-guerrilla group known as the FARC show the challenges the government must confront to guarantee…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.