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Cable 1042: Paramilitary Drug Cartels Wage War in Colombia

Cable 1042: Paramilitary Drug Cartels Wage War in Colombia

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Published by Andres
This is a 2008 US embassy report describing rising levels of violence generated by drug cartels composed of former right wing paramilitaries in the departments of Antioquia and Cordoba in northern Colombia.
This is a 2008 US embassy report describing rising levels of violence generated by drug cartels composed of former right wing paramilitaries in the departments of Antioquia and Cordoba in northern Colombia.

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Published by: Andres on Aug 19, 2013
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07/05/2014

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P 231714Z APR 08FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2486C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 001509SUBJECT: NARCO INFIGHTING REEMERGES IN ANTIOQUIA  AND CORDOBA 
REF: A. BOGOTA 1443 B. BOGOTA 1136 C. BOGOTA 645Classified By: Political Counselor John S. Creamer.Reasons 1.4 b and d.¶1. (C) Summary: The Uraba region of AntioquiaDepartment as well as Cordoba Department--both ofwhich contain major narcotrafficking routes--aresuffering a serious outbreak of narco-relatedviolence. A fight between rival narcotraffickinggroups has reportedly left 400 dead since January,with the violence also spilling into Medellin.President Uribe held a National Security Councilmeeting in Monteria on April 7 to highlight theproblem, and the Colombian National Police (CNP)has set up a special unit to pursue Uraba-basednarcotafficker and former paramilitary leaderDaniel Rendon (Don Mario). Still, Colombianmilitary note that Uraba is not a militarypriority, and military and police corruption is aserious problem. End Summary.
 
--------------------------------------------URABA AND CORDOBA: FERTILE GROUND FOR NARCOS--------------------------------------------
¶2. (U) The Uraba region of Antioquia Departmentand Cordoba Department in northwest Colombiaremains a center of narcotrafficking. Paramilitaryleader Carlos Castano set up his firstparamilitary/narcotrafficking group in Cordoba andUraba in the early 1990s. A CNP official told usUraba's coastline, rivers, dense vegetation, hills,and border with Panama make it one of "the mostsecure routes for narcotrafficking." Its proximityto Medellin and coca cultivation in other parts ofAntioquia--as well as the presence of large numbersof demobilized paramilitaries and mid-level paracommanders--make it an integral part of a regionalnarcotrafficking economy. San Pedro de Uraba MayorHugo Caballero said Uraba's poor governance andlack of economic development also contribute tocriminal activity. He characterized Uraba'sinfrastructure, public institutions and classstructure as somewhere "between the 21st centuryand colonialism."¶3. (U) The presence of substantial numbers ofdemobilized paramilitaries--coupled with cocacultivation in the south and access to the sea--also makes Cordoba an attractive area for newgroups. Tierralta Mayor Anibal Ortiz Naranjo,claims the GOC has lost track of 600 of 825 formerUnited Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)members who demobilized in his community. (Note:Tierralta was largely controlled by paramilitariesfrom 1995 until the final para demobilization in
 
2006.) He said the GOC's local reintegrationprograms stopped paying monthly stipends todemobilized in 2007, leading many to return tocrime. President Uribe agrees the GOC'sreintegration programs in Uraba and Cordoba havebeen ineffective.
-------------------------------------- NEW CRIMINAL GROUPS BATTLE FOR CONTROL--------------------------------------
¶4. (U) Daniel Rendon (Don Mario) -- a former mid-level United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)mid-level commander and brother of AUC ElmerCardenas Block commander Freddy Rendon (El Aleman)-- heads an Uraba-based narcotrafficking bandwhich is battling Medellin-based criminal groupssuch as Los Paisas and Los Traquetos for control ofnarcotrafficking activities in Uraba and Cordoba.The conflict began with individual murders, but hasexpanded into a full blown gang war. Media sourcesattribute over 400 murders in the region sinceJanuary to the conflict, and violent crime inCordoba reportedly has risen 37% in 2008 in thefirst quarter as compared to last year. Rendon,who demobilized under the paramilitary peaceprocess but later returned to crime, is recruitingformer demobilized paras into his ranks. Somemedia claim he has also sought the support of theFARC.¶5. (C) CNP Carabineros (rural police) told usRendon intends to dominate the Uraba/Cordoba regionas well as to extend his operations into Medellin.

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