The report said the links between the FARC fronts — the 6th, 29th, 30th and 48th, all operating in southwest Colombia — and the Beltran Leyva organization, headed by Mexican drug lord Hector Beltran Leyva, were initiated and maintained by FARC member alias “Pachecho,” the former number two in command of the 30th Front who was captured in August 2011.
The capture of “Pachecho,” coupled with the killing of alias “Mincho,” the 30th Front’s top commander and allegedly one of the biggest “narcos” in the organization, led to “divisions” in the FARC as various fronts struggled to gain a bigger stake in the guerilla group’s drug profits.
The document noted the group’s nomination of alias “Alemar” as chief of the guerillas’ narcotics trade in the region after the death of “Mincho” did little to ease the concern of other FARC leaders who were afraid of losing out on the income generated by the drug trade.
“Many of them began to confront each other and internal disputes arose over access to cocaine buyers, […] control of routes and guerrilla presence where illegal crops are grown,” the report said.
“El Enano,” considered to be the top FARC leader in Colombia’s third largest city, Cali, wrote to his superiors in the Western Bloc that he did not have “confidence to continue working in the area” due to the nomination of “Alemar.”
All FARC fronts in southwestern Colombia were considered to have links to drug traffickers in other countries, but the 48th and 30th Fronts were singled out as the most crucial given their higher-profile international contacts.
The FARC’s 48th front, considered one of the FARC’s richest given its deep involvement in the drug trade, is active in the southern Putumayo department on the border with Ecuador and is “one of the 19 FARC fronts totally dedicated to drug trafficking,” according government statements issued in May this year. The front has allegedly maintained links to Colombian drug trafficking group Los Rastrojos and several foreign drug trafficking organizations, including the Mexican Sinaloa cartel.
The report obtained by El Espectador said “the 48th Front of the FARC is coordinating actions to contact not only drug traffickers from the Beltran Leyva cartel, but they also have the intention of receiving visits from the European mafia to the zones where drugs are produced on Colombian territory.”
“[The] operations have established direct links between the leaders of the FARC’s 48th front and drug traffickers from Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Mexico and Costa Rica,” it continued.
The FARC’s 30th Front maintains narcotics movement through a corridor from the Cauca department’s western mountain range to the Pacific Ocean. It is considered crucial to the FARC’s drug trafficking operations because of its location between the coca producing municipalities of Corinto, Lopez and Toribio and the FARC’s 8th and 29th Fronts, which operate close to the Pacific coast.
The report noted many of the FARC attacks that take place in the Cauca, Nariño and Putumayo departments are directly related to the group’s interest in keeping drug trafficking corridors open.