Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s office will investigate alleged links between criminal groups and local authorities in the country’s northwest, local media reported on Tuesday.
Investigators have already arrested police officers and politicians with alleged link to Colombia’s criminal groups, known collectively as BACRIM.
According to Colombia’s La Semana magazine, these are apparently the first links to be investigated between the state and organised crime in what they have dubbed “Bacrimpolitica.” This name is a nod to the famous parapolitics scandal which uncovered ties between the state and the right wing paramilitary organizations which were at large in the 80s and 90s.
The mayor of Choco, Ebrin Mosquera, was arrested for allegedly receiving money from the country’s largest criminal group, “Los Urabeños” who themselves formed after the breakup of the AUC, the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia, a paramilitary organization that operated from 1997 to 2006.
A further five people, including two councilors, were arrested on suspicion of receiving economic and political benefits from their ties with the Urabeños, reported La Semana.
The Urabeños are a neo-paramilitary group from the north of Colombia that have violently taken control of the country’s Caribbean coast in an effort to control the drug trade.
Since the arrests, the state is now investigating Nilton Cordoba, a congressman-elect for Choco elected in the most recent congressional elections. He is also suspected of having links with the criminal organization.
The Prosecutor General’s office spent several months tracking officials and established that they were each receiving monthly payments of between $300 and $500 in exchange for providing the criminal with information concerning military operations in the department, specifically in the area of San Juan.
Police selling weapons to criminals
In some cases the arrested police officers even sold weapons to the Urabeños according to one of the investigators from the Prosecutor General’s office.
Most worrying however is the familiarity with the scandal. The department of Choco had a number of its congressmen arrested for their links with the paramilitaries and the “parapolitics” scandal.