Battles to control the drug trafficking trade in northern Colombia have upped the homicide rate and and may well be responsible for the desertion of some 450 demobilized paramilitaries from reintegration programs, say officials.
Conflict over cocaine cultivation zones, laboratories and shipping routes in northern Antioquia has resulted in 117 homicides this year, up from 75 last year and more than 70 believed to be related to organized crime groups, commander of the Antioquian Police, Coronel Luis Eduardo Martínez, told El Colombiano.
Authorities fear the 450 deserted paramilitaries, all former members of the United Self Defense Forces, or AUC for its Spanish initials, have either rejoined criminal bands in the region or fled due to threats.
Antioquian Peace Adviser, Jorge Ignacio Brown, struck a more optimistic tone. While acknowledging that some of the deserted may have returned to crime,
he noted that “many demobilized left the process to initiate their individual lives and went to live in other regions.”