Colombia’s largest paramilitary successor group, the AGC, a.k.a. “Los Urabeños,” are moving troops to central Colombia to reinforce their presence in former FARC territory, according to the military.
The Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) originate from the northwestern Uraba region, but have since their foundation in 2008 made major territorial advances, mainly at the cost of their rivals in the drug trafficking business, neo-cartel “Los Rastrojos,” and guerrilla groups FARC and ELN.
Some 22 alleged AGC members were arrested on Monday while trying to join fellow-paramilitaries in what the military considers an attempt to solidify the group’s control over coca cultivation fields in the Meta and Guaviare provinces that have been abandoned by the FARC, which is in the process of demobilizing.
According to the military, the AGC had created a corridor to move troops from Uraba to Meta, but were caught.
While the military said the AGC has been active in the area around coca trade hub Mapiripan, Meta since 2012, independent observers did not register the paramilitary successor group’s presence in the area until 2014.
The arrests were part of “Operation Agamemnon” which seeks to end the AGC and arrest its leader, “Otoniel,” but with little success.
In spite of massive military operations, the paramilitary successor group knew to grew from 250 members in 2008 to “between 2,400 and 2,700” this year, according to the National Police.