Three of Colombia’s most powerful drug trafficking organizations have agreed to divide Colombia’s drug trafficking routes in the west of the country to avoid infighting, Cali-based newspaper El Pais reports.
According to the newspaper, senior members of the “Rastrojos,” the “Urabeños” and the smaller “Paisas” came to a territorial agreement during a meeting in Colombia’s second largest city Medellin earlier this month.
El Pais based its claims on two anonymous sources and said that research group Nuevo Arco Iris is expected to release a report on the pact.
The reported meeting was attended by “Martin Bala,” second in command of the Rastrojos, “Mi Sangre,” one of the top leaders of the “Urabeños,” and Julio Cesar Sanchez alias “Politico,” one of the commanders of the Paisas who was arrested in the north of Colombia just days after the alleged meeting.
According to El Pais, the three drug trafficking groups agreed that the drug operations in the southwestern departments of Valle, Cauca and Nariño are territory of the Rastrojos, while the Urabeños have unique control over the Pacific department of Choco and the Caribbean region of Uraba and the northern Sucre department.
The Paisas were dealt the Antioquia department, which is used for the cultivation and transporting of drugs from Colombia’s inland to both the Pacific and the Caribbean.
The three groups are reportedly still disputing control over the crucial Cordoba department where the Paisas and the Urabeños have been involved in a bloody turf war over the past few years, and the departments of Magdalena, Santander and Guajira where the Rastrojos and the Urabeños are battling.
The Rastrojos were also alleged to be seeking expansion to the southeast of Colombia, which traditionally was controlled by neo-paramilitary group ERPAC and the organization of “Martin Llanos.” However, after the death of ERPAC leader Cuchillo in 2010, the surrender to authorities of his successors in 2011 and the arrest of Martin Llanos earlier this year, the region — important for coca cultivation and arms and drug trafficking between Venezuela — is up for grabs, but has a high concentration of FARC fighters also seeking expansion of control over the drug trade.
Conflict analysts consulted by the paper rejected ideas that a pact between the drug trafficking organizations would lead to less violence. “Every time a leader surrenders a war erupts,” Camilo Gonzales of Indepaz said. “We have the example of Mexico where criminal organizations have united for a few months to then again start killing each other.”