Colombia’s Minister of Defense, Juan Carlos Pinzon, welcomed the possiblity of creating a legal framework for the country’s armed forces to combat drug gangs.
“Senator Juan Lozano spoke on the subject, and surely we must continue to analyze how to strengthen the tools of the Military Forces, both legal and material, to address the various threats to the Colombian people,” said Pinzon. A proposal to consider the issue was initiated by U Party director Juan Lozano and will be debated in the coming months.
The country’s police force does not have the tools necessary to “forcefully” deal with neo-paramilitary drug trafficking groups, according to Lozano.
“The state is facing an enormous challenge. We are left with police facilities that we use to fight delinquents and neighborhood gangs to combat organizations that have a large arms supply and excercise territorial control, financed by narcotraffickers, that has sophisticated organizational abilites in different regions. It’s inappropriate,” said Lozano.
Pinzon took the opportunity to praise the work of Colombian authorities against the country’s most powerful drug trafficking organizations. “Since December, none of the heads of these criminal gangs, like the Urabeños, the Paisas or the Rastrojos, run their organizations today because they have been killed or captured in Colombia or abroad,” he said.
Colombian police killed the alleged leader of the Urabeños, Juan de Dios Usuga, alias “Giovanni,” in a January firefight. The supreme leader of the Rastrojos, Javier Antonio Calle Serna, alias “Comba,” turned himself over to U.S. authorities in April.
In January police arrested Lacides Manuel Vergara, the suspected leader of neo-paramilitary group the Paisas, who are allied with the Rastrojos.
“Despite the structural limitations and the legal uncertainty,” members of Colombia’s security forces “give their lives and produce results,” added the defense minister.
“Next semester or probably at the end of this year, we can begin talking about a clear framework and possibilities that can put our men and armed forces more at ease,” Pinzon added.