The latest grizzly find has brought the number of dismembered murder victims in Colombia’s largest Pacific port city, Buenventura, up to at least 15 on the year, local media reported.
Found Sunday, the corpse was missing both its legs and hands, in a pattern fitting with other gang murders committed in the city’s various “chop-houses,” some of which were uncovered earlier this year.
Buenaventura has become a battleground for warring drug interests hoping to control the port’s strategic access to the burgeoning southeast Asian market and smuggling routes through Central America. The fighting, carried out between sub-groups of national neo-paramilitary groups “Los Rastrojos” and “Los Urabeños,” has been marked by extreme displays of violence.
Victim watched Colombia match in his house
This latest incident, which authorities reported on Sunday, brings the count of dismembered bodies found in Buenaventura in 2014 up to 15.
Earlier this month, a body had been found stuffed into plastic bags and left along the Buenaventura railway line. Many of the dismembered corpses are disposed of in the Pacific Ocean or in the network of rivers surrounding the city.
The newest victim, meanwhile, an unidentified man of between 20-25 years of age, was found alone in a possibly abandoned house. There is still no information about potential motive of the murder, but according to investigators, the body was still fresh when it was found, which suggests that the victim could have been killed between Saturday night and early Sunday morning, El Pais reported.
National Police Colonel Luis Merida said the body was reported by people from the local community who work with authorities to monitor illegal activity, according to W Radio.
A blood-stained machete was found alongside the victim and is believed to be the murder weapon, though no confirmation has been made.
“One of the most violent places in Colombia”
The figure is just one graphic measure of a longstanding human rights crisis that has been fomenting in the city for years now.
The port-city of Buenaventura lies on Colombia’s Pacific coast and has been the stage of an increasingly aggressive turf war between criminal gangs fighting for control of illegal drug trafficking routes.
The country’s two largest neoparamilitary groups, Los Urabeños and Los Rastrojos — the latter working through its local “La Empresa” offshoot — have been fighting for control of Buenaventura’s increasingly profitable drug trade since just after the demobilization of Colombia’s AUC paramilitary bloc in 2006.
The two criminal organizations, which incorporate elements from the AUC and Colombia’s more traditional cartels, move drugs from cultivation areas to the port by river and, from there, ship them to Central American smugglers and to the growing Asian market.
In April this year Human Rights Watch (HRW) held a special briefing for US Congress members to discuss the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Colombian port city of Buenaventura, which they refered to as “one of the most violent places in Colombia.” Here the director of HRW had asked congress members to ensure that US aid to Colombia is dependent on the Colombian government’s protection of human rights for the citizens of Buenaventura.