HomeNewsExplosives and Weapons Heading to Ecuador – Colombia Border
NEWS

Explosives and Weapons Heading to Ecuador – Colombia Border

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 7 SEP 2021 BY GABRIELLE GORDER EN

Authorities have made a string of explosives and weapons seizures while patrolling the Colombia-Ecuador border region – a remote and lawless frontier that is home to a volatile mix of armed actors involved in a range of illicit activities.

According to local news, an ongoing investigation into illegal border crossings has led to seizures by Ecuadoran and Colombian authorities of explosives and weapons along the border between Ecuador's northern province of Carchi and Colombia's southern Nariño department.

Authorities say the explosive materials and weapons seized were destined for irregular armed groups in Colombia.

The most recent seizure occurred at the end of August, when a foreigner, whose nationality has not been revealed, was stopped in Carchi with 10 units of explosives, each with enough power to destroy a car. A military official said the material could have been used to make improvised explosive devices.

In another instance, authorities on the Nariño side of the border seized five explosive devices, two radios, a .38-caliber weapon and an artisanal mortar crossed over from Ecuador. According to intelligence services, these explosives were ready to be detonated, Ecuavisa reported.

SEE ALSO: Ecuador News and Profiles

Earlier in August, two Venezuelan men were arrested in Otavalo while smuggling enough dynamite and explosive materials to cause damage within a 100-meter radius. The two Venezuelans were reportedly headed to the border city of Tulcán, in the Carchi province.

And on July 21, police detained a man who was transporting 119 grenades and eight mortars through the Santo Domingo de Los Tsáchilas province, located west of the country’s capital city, Quito. Insignias on the mortars labeled "lote 9067" indicated that the confiscated weaponry was stolen from the military. The Ecuadorian news outlet Expreso reported that the grenades and mortars seized were believed to be destined for the country’s northern border.

InSight Crime Analysis

The recent seizures of explosives and weapons transiting and en route to Ecuador's Carchi province are likely a product of the continued spillover of Colombia’s armed conflict and organized crime into its southern neighbor.

Due to its porous state, the border area between Carchi and Nariño is particularly bedeviled by human smuggling, fuel contraband, drug trafficking and violence. In 2019, authorities reported around 120 illegal border crossings between Carchi and Nariño.

Meanwhile, the northwestern Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas province, where the mortars were confiscated in July, is a known storage point used by criminal actors to smuggle drugs, contraband and migrants to both the Carchi and Esmeraldas border provinces.

Authorities say dissident factions of the now-defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC), namely the Dagoberto Ramos, Carlos Patiño and Oliver Sinisterra columns, are funneling arms into Colombia via Carchi. Rearmed and criminalized, these dissident groups -- dubbed the ex-FARC mafia – are active on both sides of the border, trafficking cocaine into Ecuador and weapons and explosives into Colombia.

SEE ALSO: Thriving in the Shadows: Cocaine, Crime and Corruption in Ecuador

While it remains unclear the intended use of the seized explosives, the bomb-making materials could have been used for attacks against people and infrastructure.

The explosives could have also been used for illegal gold mining purposes. The Ecuadorian border provinces of Esmeraldas, Carchi and Sucumbíos have all experienced an increase in illegal mining. Miners use explosives to blast rock and free up gold-bearing material

When the FARC demobilized in 2016, a power vacuum was left in the Ecuador-Colombia border region. As guerrilla dissident factions and other criminal actors competed to fill the void, violence surged.

A defining act of brutality occurred there when three Ecuadorean reporters were kidnapped and later killed by a dissident FARC cell in March 2018.

The current wave of violence along the border, between the cities of Ipiales (Colombia) and Tulcán (Ecuador), has been attributed to campaigns by FARC dissident groups and drug mafias to control the region's many informal border crossings.

Indeed, the movement of drugs through these frontiers fuels not only Ecuador's role as a cocaine superhighway to the US and Europe but also Colombian armed groups in the region.

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 / 11 JAN 2017

Latin America witnessed a criminal boom in illegal mining in 2016, and a rise of complementary illicit activities, as organized…

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2012

The capture of the only remaining leader signaled as a possible inheritor of the Rastrojos is another sign that…

COLOMBIA / 2 MAY 2019

Hernán Darío Velásquez, better known as 'El Paisa,' was a top former leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia…

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.