Colombia’s ombudsman warns for possible turf wars in Bogota

Bogota's Monserrate church (Image credit: Oscar Payan)

Colombia’s Ombudsman’s Office issued an alert about escalating tensions between paramilitary organization AGC and Venezuelan drug trafficking organization Tren de Aragua in Bogota.

In the alert, the Ombudsman’s Office said that more than a million residents of the capital are at risk of violence by gangs that work for the paramilitaries and drug traffickers.

The situation would be particularly serious in 22 neighborhoods in the heart of the city where gangs that are loyal to either the AGC or the Tren de Aragua are vying for control over organized crime rackets.

In these neighborhoods and the surrounding districts, the Ombudsman’s Office “noted the persistence and exacerbation of selective and indiscriminate violence through death threats, selective homicides or… massacres, forced disappearances, extortion that expose victims to attempts on their lives and personal integrity through methods and means meant to generate terror.”

Criminal groups have been controlling human trafficking networks for the purpose of sexual exploitation, begging and forced labor. In addition, there have been cases of forced intra-urban displacement. Finally, there is a risk of involvement, use and utilization of children, adolescents and young people, mainly for the sale of drugs and illegal weapons, commercial sexual exploitation and labor exploitation.

Ombudsman’s Office

Both the AGC and the Tren de Aragua have been promoting the strengthening of local gangs in order to increase their cash revenue through force and the legitimacy of their “criminal governance.”

At the same time, guerrilla group EMC has been giving away toys to kids and food baskets to parents in their attempt to increase their control and access to potential recruits in poor neighborhoods.

Mayor Carlos Galan called a municipal security council meeting in order to formulate a response to the threats posed by the illegal armed groups in the capital.

 

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