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Sun Dec 7, 2014, 03:34 PM

The latest drug trafficking gadget: the torpedo

The latest drug trafficking gadget: the torpedo
Dec 5, 2014 posted by Robin Llewellyn

A semi-submersible, four meter long “torpedo” which could traffic 200 kg of cocaine to central America has been seized by the navy on Colombia’s Pacific coast.

Colonel Carlos Mario Diaz, Commander of the Second Marine Brigade, told the Associated Press that the seizure is the first of its kind in Colombia.

The vessel can be powered by electric batteries or diesel, and Diaz described it as “a semi-submersible torpedo — four meters long by two wide, which has an internal capacity to accommodate approximately 200 kg of cocaine hydro-chloride”.

The torpedo was constructed out of PVC and fiberglass, and could navigate for ten hours. It was discovered during an operation against three camps of a renegade group of the Rastrojos criminal group, but no arrests have yet been made. The organization historically controlled drug-trafficking routes up the Pacific coast, but in 2013 suffered devastating set-backs at the hands of law-enforcement agencies and through attacks by the rival Urabenos gang.

The camps had the capacity to house 30 people. A longboat with an Ecuadorian registration plate was found with the torpedo.

http://colombiareports.co/latest-drug-trafficking-gadget-torpedo/

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History of the Rastrojos, formerly part of the AUC paramilitary (death squad) :

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In December 2004, the Catatumbo Bloc of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) demobilized under an agreement signed with the government of President Álvaro Uribe. The Catatumbo Bloc was created in the late 1990s when several local paramilitary groups merged and were then incorporated into the AUC. The leader of the Bloc was Salvatore Mancuso, who would later also become the head of the AUC. The Bloc’s objective was to gain control over Norte de Santander, which had been dominated by the FARC’s 33rd Front for decades. The Bloc quickly made its presence felt in 1999 with the massacre of 20 people in La Gabarra in the municipality of Tibú. Over the next five years, the group, in collusion with the Colombian Army, waged a campaign of terror in its effort to cleanse the region of guerrillas. During this period, more than 5,000 people were killed, over 200 were disappeared and some 40,000 forcibly displaced.1

The Catatumbo Bloc was killing so many people that government officials working in collusion with the paramilitaries pressured the militia group into concealing the magnitude of the violence it was perpetrating. According to Mancuso, the Bloc began building large ovens in order to incinerate the bodies of its victims. The first oven was constructed in 2001 and 98 corpses were cremated. Hundreds more bodies were incinerated during the ensuing years.2 Meanwhile, at the same time that the Catatumbo Bloc was waging its dirty war in Norte de Santander, it was also consolidating its control over drug trafficking activities in the region. Coca cultivation was abundant in the remote rural zones and it has been estimated that the value of the cocaine produced in the Catatumbo region amounts to $8 million a week.3

When the Catatumbo Bloc demobilized at the end of 2004, control over the region’s drug production and trafficking fell into the hands of those paramilitaries who refused to participate in the demobilization process. Within a couple of years, these former AUC fighters had formed a group known as the Black Eagles. Meanwhile, another neo-paramilitary group called Los Rastrojos had been formed in southwestern Colombia by former AUC fighters and ex-members of the Norte de Valle drug trafficking cartel. Los Rastrojos quickly expanded their presence throughout the country from six departments in 2008 to 22 two years later.4

The group arrived in Norte de Santander in 2009 and the relative peace that the region had enjoyed following the demobilization of the AUC was shattered. The number of murders soared that year as Los Rastrojos sought to violently displace the Black Eagles and seize control of the region’s lucrative drug producing and trafficking operations. The principal town in the Catatumbo region, Ocaña, experienced 40 selective assassinations in 2009, according to Captain Sergio Jiménez of the local detachment of the National Police. The number of killings in Ocaña halved the following year due to an increased presence of state security forces and the fact that Los Rastrojos had succeeded in their quest to defeat the Black Eagles and become the dominant neo-paramilitary group in the region. Ultimately, many members of the Eagles switched sides and joined the ranks of the newly dominant group. During this period, members of another neo-paramilitary group, Los Urabeños, originally formed in northwestern Colombia, also established a presence in the northern part of the Catatumbo region and in the department of Cesar. Many of the local members of Los Urabeños are former fighters from the AUC’s Northern Bloc.

More:
https://nacla.org/news/2012/2/10/shifting-contours-colombia%E2%80%99s-armed-conflict

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