Criminal gangs like the Rastrojos or those that emerged from paramilitary organization AUC are a “new enemy” of the Colombian authorities, the country’s Interior and Justice Minister told national radio.
In an interview with W Radio, Minister German Vargas Lleras said the police and army have increased the pressure on emerging drug-trafficking groups that, according to President Juan Manuel Santos, must be controlled.
“We have seen a significant growth of organizations that are increasing their number of troops, territorial presence and access to long-range weapons,” the minister told W Radio.
The minister announced the change in priority following the murder of two students in the north of Colombia. This double homicide was allegedly committed by drug gang “Los Urabeños,” one of the groups that emerged after the demobilization of the AUC and is led by former members of Colombia’s largest-ever paramilitary group.
Groups including Los Urabeños, Los Paisas, Oficina de Envigado, Aguilas Negras, and ERPAC are all led by members of the AUC that officially demobilized between 2003 and 2006. These neo-paramilitary groups together with drug gangs like the Rastrojos are estimated by authorities to have some 6,000 members. The AUC had approximately 31,000 members.