HomeNewsFARC Dissidents Patrol Streets in Broad Daylight on Colombia-Venezuela Border

FARC Dissidents Patrol Streets in Broad Daylight on Colombia-Venezuela Border


A series of videos showing ex-FARC dissidents patrolling the streets of a Colombian town close to the Venezuelan border show how the group has taken advantage of a weakening state presence in a region coveted by criminal actors.

Videos circulated on social media between July 14 and 16 showed armed members of a branch of the ex-FARC Mafia, known as the 33rd Front, carrying heavy weapons and wandering the streets of Tibú, a municipality in the northeastern Norte de Santander department – a crucial hub of coca cultivation.

In the videos, the masked dissidents can be seen questioning civilians and stopping vehicles as they move through the town's streets.

One video showed the FARC dissidents in front of the mayor's office in Tibú. The leader of the group addressed the local population, saying they were establishing a presence in the area to offer protection.

“Today we are in the center of Tibú, providing security to all the people...We are the special urban combat forces of the FARC-EP's 33rd Front," said one of the dissidents.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Organized Crime in Colombia

Earlier in July, the same group of dissidents was filmed visiting bars and nightclubs in the town, telling civilians they were providing security in the area.

The presence of the ex-FARC Mafia in Tibú dates back to 2018, following the signing of a peace agreement between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) and the national government. The 33rd Front – one of the many ex-FARC factions not to obey the peace agreement – primarily operates in rural parts of the municipality, where it grows coca and processes cocaine in laboratories to finance its continuing conflict against the state.

The ex-FARC dissidents are not the only guerrilla group to have recently walked the streets of Tibú unchallenged. At the start of July, members of the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN) went to an urban area in the municipality to attend the burial of a member killed while fighting the Colombian army.

Other armed groups have also sought control of Tibú and the surrounding region, including the Urabeños and the People's Liberation Army (Ejército Popular de Liberación - EPL).

InSight Crime Analysis

Though the videos posted on social media offer a glimpse into the FARC dissidents' authority in Tibú, these daytime patrols are not the group's only means of exerting social control.

Sources in Tibú told InSight Crime the ex-FARC patrols have been frequent since the end of 2021. But in recent months, there have also been several cases of 33rd Front dissidents punishing alleged thieves and drug dealers. Punishments have ranged from public humiliation to death.

SEE ALSO: Is Colombia’s Military Deployment Playing into FARC Dissidents’ Hands?

These forms of social control are not new to Tibú or its surroundings. Armed groups, including the now-demobilized FARC, have long sought to stamp their authority on communities in Norte de Santander, and have attempted to resolve disputes and maintain order.

These most recent examples may stem from an attempt by armed groups to improve their relationship with the local civilian population and avoid animosity.

These groups are growing both economically and militarily, exploiting criminal economies in Tibú and the wider region, such as drug routes to Venezuela and swaths of coca crops.

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.


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.


Related Content

BOLIVIA / 1 APR 2022

Millions of young people around the world document their experiences at work, at school or with their friends on TikTok.

BOLIVIA / 23 SEP 2022

As world leaders met for the United Nations General Assembly, Latin American presidents expressed various concerns about organized crime.

COCA / 1 SEP 2021

Deforestation is the most visible face of environmental crime in Colombia’s Amazon.

About InSight Crime


Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…


Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…


Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…


Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…


InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…