Seven people have been arrested for allegedly dismembering a 26-year old woman in the violent Colombian port city of Buenaventura, authorities said Tuesday. Three of the suspects are minors.
The incident took place before April 23 when authorities found the victim’s dismembered body in plastic bags.
Three of the four adults are already incarcerated. The minors are under 16. All seven are allegedly members of neo-paramilitary group “Los Urabeños“, according to La Vanguardia newspaper.
PROFILE: Los Urabeños
Buenaventura has become a battleground for warring drug interests hoping to control the port’s strategic access to the burgeoning southeast Asian market and smuggling routes through Central America.
PROFILE: Los Rastrojos
Slaughterhouses or “chop-houses” as they are known have almost become a normality in the port, with 15 dismembered bodies being reported this year alone. Chop-houses are used by the warring gangs to dismember their victims, in a display of violence similar to the beheadings carried out by drug trafficking organizations in Mexico.
In April this year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) held a special briefing for US Congress members to discuss the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Buenaventura, which they referred to as “one of the most violent places in Colombia.”
The director of HRW asked American congressmen to ensure that aid to Colombia is dependent on the Colombian government’s protection of human rights for the citizens of Buenaventura.
Earlier this year, Colombia’s Ministry of Defense deployed troops to the coastal city to contain the exacerbated human rights crisis. Militarization, however, has done little to stem the bleeding.
The UN made a visit to the city in November 2013 and called on the Colombian government to take action to contain devastating levels of violence which led to a rising homicide rate and the forced displacement of thousands of individuals.
Buenaventura has the one of the highest levels of urban displacement in Colombia, the country with the second most displacement victims in the world. Afro-Colombian communities like those that inhabit Buenaventura are disproportionately victimized by the country’s longstanding armed conflict.