Colombian police claimed to have captured over 1,600 members of illegal armed groups during 2012, local media reported on Friday.
Police said that out of more than 1,600 arrests, 684 members of these groups had been tried and sentenced in court during the course of the year, according to newspaper El Tiempo.
The gangs, known by the government-imposed term “Bacrim,” or emergent criminal groups, are thought to have a presence in large portions of Colombia.
Most of the captured belonged to the drug gang ‘Los Rastrojos‘ (683), followed by the neo-paramilitary group ‘Los Urabeños‘ (483), ‘ERPAC‘ (239) and ‘Los Paisas’ with 173. The rest of the captured belonged to other criminal groups, reported newspaper El Heraldo.
The largest of the them, Los Urabeños, is considered the heir of the notorious disbanded paramilitary group AUC, although the organization is now led by a former commander of the leftist EPL guerrilla movement. Los Rastrojos, on the other hand, is a drug-trafficking group that can trace its roots back to the Cali-based ‘Norte del Valle Cartel.’ Antioquia-based Los Paisas began as a rural wing of the Medellin crime syndicate, ‘Oficina de Envigado,’ but has since become independent. ERPAC, ‘The Popular Revolutionary Anti-Communist Army of Colombia,’ is considered one of the most important drug-trafficking groups in Colombia’s eastern plains.