Colombia unveils new crime-fighting strategy in Santa Marta

Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva announced Wednesday a new government strategy to fight the growing problem of crime in the Caribbean coastal town of Santa Marta.

Silva said in a Defense Ministry press release that the government is working to increase coordination between the police, security agency DAS, and judicial bodies.

He nominated Deputy Defense Minister Alejandro Arbelaez, and the deputy minister of the interior, Miguel Ceballos, to lead the integration and coordination process.

The defense minister also announced that local and regional authorities asked Colombia’s prosecutor general to assign more officials to help investigate and prosecute those responsible for the increased number of homicides plaguing Santa Marta.

The new strategy to be implemented in Santa Marta has been successful in other cities, according to Silva.

Silva said that 250 policemen who arrived to the city as reinforcements in the last few months will remain there until at least July.

Santa Marta saw a 6% increase in homicide in 2009. Local authorities attribute the increase to the fact that, due to its location, Santa Marta has become a strategic drug trafficking corridor.

Silva said a conference will be held for all civil, military, police and judicial authorities from Colombia’s Atlantic coast after the upcoming congressional elections on March 14.

The focus of the conference will be to develop collective strategies to combat organized drug trafficking.

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