More than 350 people have disappeared since January 2011 in Colombia’s most western department Choco, newspaper El Tiempo reported Sunday.
According to the daily, local media and human rights defenders blamed “Los Rastrojos,” a drug gang originating from the southwest of the country, of 363 cases of alleged forced disappearance.
The disappearances are primarily a concern in the northern municipalities of Bahia Solano, Jurado, Riosucio and Carmen del Darien. The situation reportedly is most alarming in the central municipality of Medio Baudo where the local authorities face accusations of collaborating with the drug trafficking organization.
The Chocó department is Colombia’s poorest department and has been a stronghold of the Rastrojos ever since the organization took over the drug trafficking routes of the Norte del Valle cartel.
As a result of Colombia’s armed conflict, more than 55,000 Colombians are registered as disappeared.