Colombian authorities have detained 740 alleged members of drug-trafficking groups in the first 100 days of 2011, as well as seizing 89 tons of narcotics, according to a National Police press release Tuesday.
The majority of those captured came from neo-paramilitary group “Los Urabeños,” who constituted 378 of the arrests this year.
With their traditional sphere of operation being the department of Antioquia, primarily the valuable narco-trafficking region of Uraba near Panama which gives them their name, it is perhaps unsurprising that this area contributed the most amount of arrests with 225, 78 of which were in Uraba alone.
National authorities also captured 246 alleged members of arguably Colombia’s most powerful drug trafficking group “Los Rastrojos,” who principally operate out of the Pacific coast departments of Cauca and Valle del Cauca.
Although initially a purely narco-trafficking organization that grew out of the now defunct Norte del Valle Cartel, their ranks have been swelled in recent years by former low-level paramilitaries. They also reportedly tend to make shifting alliances with many other groups including the FARC and the ELN.
A further 69 supposed members of neo-paramilitary group “Los Paisas” were captured, a smaller organization who stay true to their name and operate largely out of the Paisa department of Antioquia.
The police statement announced that over the same period they have seized 89 tons of narcotics, mostly of marijuana, while adding that 54 people have been extradited so far this year and a further 53 detainees await the same fate.
Some 100 specifically-labelled narco-traffickers have been caught in the ongoing fight against drug trafficking, alongside around 4,000 people supposedly engaged in smaller scale “micro-trafficking.”
Among the higher profile detainees so far in 2011 was the alleged head assassin of “Los Urabeños,” alias “El Bachiller,” while one of Colombia’s top ten most-wanted fugitives, the “Los Rastrojos” senior leader Hector Efren Meneses Yela, alias “Guara,” was captured Sunday 17 April.