Colombian police have arrested so far 1,937 suspected members of new paramilitary groups that have emerged in recent years and are linked to drug trafficking.
About 668 of those arrested belonged to the criminal group Los Rastrojos, created by Wilber Varela, a known mafia boss with the alias “Jabon,” who was murdered in early 2008 in Venezuela, the European Press Agency reported Monday.
Another 533 of the detainees were members of a criminal gang operating in the troubled northwestern region of Urabá, and 464 others were affiliated with Los Paisas.
The right-wing paramilitary groups’ organizational structures broke down in mid 2006 following the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish acronym AUC. At that time more than 31,000 paramilitaries were demobilized under the Justice and Peace Law process by the government of President Álvaro Uribe.
However, in the vacuum created by the dissolution, several newer, equally brutal paramilitary groups emerged and in many cases have been linked to drug trafficking.
Since January, the Colombian police seized 1,094 firearms, more than 70,000 rounds of ammunition and 631 grenades from criminal gangs involved in drug trafficking. Police also seized 97 tons of cocaine, 168 tons of marijuana and 574 kilos of heroin in various operations that resulted in the destruction of over 100 illegal drug laboratories.