HomeNewsQuibdó: The New Epicenter of Violence in Northwestern Colombia
NEWS

Quibdó: The New Epicenter of Violence in Northwestern Colombia

COLOMBIA / 22 APR 2022 BY SARA GARCIA EN

The end of an alliance between two local gangs is creating a volatile security situation in the northwest Colombian city of Quibdó, with larger criminal groups perhaps arriving to make the situation worse.

Quibdó, the capital of Colombia's northwestern department of Chocó, has experienced an increase in violence in recent weeks. Curfews, the recruitment of minors, threats, and rules imposed by the gangs have shaken the tranquility of this town of 120,000 where, according to its bishop, Juan Carlos Barreto, homicides are already well above the national average.

Behind this spike in violence is the dissolution of an alliance between two local gangs: Los Mexicanos and Los Palmeños, according to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.

The two gangs have teamed up in the past to take on the Urabeños, a criminal group that emerged from the ashes of Colombia's paramilitary demobilization, and to block the Urabeños' access to the city's criminal economies. But now, differences between the gangs' leaders appear to have led to a war, in which they vie for control of micro-trafficking and extortion activities in Quibdó.

SEE ALSO: The Endless War to Control Northwest Colombia's Drug Routes

Quibdó is no stranger to the criminality and conflict that have long wracked the department. In recent years, the city has received thousands of forcibly displaced persons, who are fleeing confrontations between the Urabeños and the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN) in the remotest areas of Chocó.

InSight Crime Analysis

Amidst this local gang conflict, still more alarming for Quibdó's residents is the possible arrival of criminal groups with a greater capacity for war.

Quibdó's local Mexicanos gang is rumored to have formed an alliance with the ELN, while the Urabeños already have a presence in the city. This is sparking fear among the civilian population that these larger criminal groups, whose clashes are currently concentrated in the south of Chocó department, could be behind the Quibdó surge as well.

The ELN and the Urabeños started waging war in Chocó in 2018. The department is strategically located for criminal economies such as drug trafficking, illegal mining and migrant smuggling.

However, the conflict between the two groups has escalated since mid-2021, with the Urabeños seeking to gain territory that has historically belonged to the guerrilla group. Additionally, blows by the Colombian army against ELN leaders have weakened the guerrilla group's presence in the region, possibly motivating it to seek out more local criminal alliances. 

SEE ALSO: Buenaventura's Everlasting Cycle of Violence Continues in Colombia

This type of proxy conflict is commonplace is Colombia. The port city of Buenaventura, located in the neighboring department of Valle del Cauca, provides a good example of how local dynamics can play into the interests of large criminal groups.

In Buenaventura, a small gang known as La Local has managed to impose its criminal rule in the important port municipality through an alliance with the Urabeños, while other groups like the ELN and dissident groups of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) have tried to establish a presence in the city.

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 JAN 2011

In a two-month operation with Interpol, Colombian police rescued 10,000 animals as part of an offensive against eco traffickers in…

COLOMBIA / 25 MAR 2013

Police say two neo-paramilitary organizations have apparently merged forces along Colombia's Pacific coast, offering insight into the strategy of criminal group…

COLOMBIA / 9 MAY 2022

A recent wave of murders in the Ecuadorian province of Esmeraldas provides clues to the role of dissident factions of…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…