Colombia has long been known for breaking global kidnapping records. The practice, however, became increasingly less common in the last years of the country’s armed conflict.
The practice has long been used by some criminals for extortion purposes, but spike in the 1980s when guerrilla group like the FARC and ELN began using the method as a way to finance their revolt against the state.
In 2012, the largest guerrilla group at the time, the FARC, announced it would end kidnapping, or “economic retention” as they called the practice. The group ultimately demobilized in 2016.
The ELN continues to use kidnapping as a way to make money, but has drastically reduced the practice because of overwhelming public rejection.
At the moment, kidnapping is at the level where it was before the guerrillas got involved and is mainly carried out by small crime groups specialized in the practice.
Kidnappings per year
Kidnapping perpetrators (2003-2012)
Kidnapping intensity 2003 – 2012