La Constru is a Colombian paramilitary organization that controls most drug trafficking operations in one of the country’s most important coca cultivation regions, strategically located along the Ecuadorean border.
The group first manifested itself in August 2006, shortly after Vicente Castaño, the co-founder of paramilitary organization AUC, ordered loyal mid-level commanders to abandon a peace process agreed with the government of then-President Alvaro Uribe.
Nevertheless, there is no saying if La Constru consists of dissident members of the Putumayo branch of the AUC’s Central Bolivar Bloc. The group’s original founder is unknown and, following a series of arrests of alleged leaders, it is unclear who is the group’s leader now.
The group reportedly is an ally of the AGC, the primary heir of the paramilitary umbrella organization.
But, contrary to the AUC and AGC, La Constru has co-existed in relative harmony with Marxist guerrilla group FARC until the rebels’ demobilization in early 2017.
The FARC’s demobilization left the group in full and undisputed control over the coca fields in Putumayo and the town of Ipiales, Colombia’s most important Ecuadorean border crossing.
Media from the region have reported that the group had taken over the FARC’s rural extortion rackets while a rise in death threats targeting community leaders emerged after the guerrillas’ demobilization.
Authorities have said the group could be as small as 50 members, but this estimate has not been confirmed.
La Constru has been tied both to the Putumayo branch of the Conservative Party and Ecuadorean drug trafficking groups across the border.