A bomb attack Wednesday that left three dead in a supermarket in the Colombian Caribbean town of Santa Marta has been blamed on criminal gangs that have been terrorizing the region, according to the mayor of Santa Marta.
The mayor of Santa Marta, Carlos Caicedo, confirmed Thursday that the 17-year-old who launched the grenade in a supermarket, leaving 23 injured and three dead, is linked to criminal gangs, reported W Radio.
Criminal gangs in the Santa Marta area, located in the Magdalena department, have increasingly wreaked havoc in the community over the past few months, due to the the culmination of several factors such as the reduction in their illicit crop cultivation and gang wars.
Caicedo claimed in an interview with Caracol Radio that the local criminal syndicates have increasingly resorted to the use of extortion and terror on local businesses, such as the supermarket, as a means of gang income. The gangs have more frequently been forcing establishments to pay up since authorities have been cracking down on their other means of cash flow, such as the cultivation of illicit crops throughout Magdalena.
Another reason for escalated violence and bomb attacks occurring in the region is allegedly due to a turf gang war over the Santa Marta Caribbean territory, providing gangs with access to the ideal drug trafficking location on the Caribbean ocean.
Allegedly, the grenade attack in the supermarket Wednesday is connected to the feared neo-paramilitary group, the “Urabeños,” who have been increasingly terrorizing the community as a result of their battle with a newly formed neo-paramilitary group, formed from allies of extradited warlord Hernan Giraldo who used to control the Santa Marta area.
The two groups have been struggling over the drug territory, consequently instilling fear and perpetrating acts of violence throughout the Santa Marta area.
“It’s a new generation of illegal actors, and others from the ‘Urabeños’ and ‘Los Rastrojos‘ [gangs],” said Caicedo.