The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime
The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the Gaitanistas, have come out on top.
Colombia's dense jungle on the Caribbean coast is the heartland of the Urabeños, one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the Americas. This is where its top leaders are hiding, and it is also where the government is rebooting its largest-ever police operation to try, once again, to force them out. But so far the massive effort has failed to achieve its main objective: capturing Colombia's most wanted criminal suspect.
Colombia's flourishing illegal gold mining business requires explosives, many of which are sourced illicitly. This essential yet overlooked trade has opened the door for powerful criminal bosses to forge a lucrative black market that involves a large cast of characters, including assassins, legal mining companies and even the Colombian army.
The Gulf of Urabá boasts 323 kilometers of porous, thick, and deep coast dominated by the whim of the so-called Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, also known as the Urabeños; today, contraband, cocaine, migrants, as well as heavy machinery moving through the area is giving shape to a deepwater port yearning for government leadership.
A recent series of deadly attacks against police in Colombia attributed to the Urabeños hasn't stopped authorities from trumpeting their successes against the criminal group, despite evidence of the Urabeños' persistent strength.
A former FARC guerrilla has been murdered in Colombia's embattled southwest department of Nariño, a reminder of the political and criminal risks faced by the former combatants as they demobilize and the country struggles to transition towards peace.
The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the "Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia," have won.