Medellin gangs, thought be be responsible for more than 1,430 murders so far in 2010, make $10 million profits a year, according to a report by intelligence agency DAS.
The figures in the DAS report differ from figures provided by the city’s ombudsman, which say that Medellin has some 400 gangs, of which 200 are active, with a total of 5,000 members.
The gangs make profits from extortion, kidnapping, contract killings and trafficking arms and drugs.
The intelligence report confirms statements by authorities that most gangs in the city belong to the drug trafficking organizations of “Sebastian” and “Valenciano.”
The city’s most important gangs are “Los Mondongueros”, “Los Triana,” “Los Pacheli,” and to lesser extent “La Union” and “Los de Itagui.”
The groups range in size from 30 to 300 members. The majority of the members are aged between 14 and 26, the report says.
Following the extradition of “Don Berna,” a commander of paramilitary group AUC, in May 2008, lower-ranked paramilitaries struggled for control of the city’s underworld and nearby drug trafficking routes. The gang wars left at least 3,000 dead in 2009 and 2010.
On Tuesday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos declared war on the city’s violence with a new string of measures to combat the violence that is paralyzing life in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.