Local politicians have called for military reinforcements to regain control of the troubled town of Tumaco in southwest Colombia.
Antonio Navarro Wolf, the governor of Nariño, the department where Tumaco is located, told RCN Radio, “we need more manpower here, Tumaco needs more security to reduce homicides, which are three or four times the national average.”
“We do not have any other alternative,” he added.
The call was echoed by Tumaco Mayor Neftali Correa Diaz, who said the town needed a specialist unit to tackle extortion by criminal gangs, neo-paramilitaries and the leftist guerrilla group FARC, according to Caracol Radio.
He added that the municipality also needs more Navy boats to patrol the coast and the creation of a Tumaco Gaula unit – the specialist anti-kidnapping police.
On Monday, Caracol Radio reported the government will soon announce it is sending 2,000 additional troops into the region. However, this report was not confirmed by authorities or other media.
Tumaco is plagued by illegal armed groups due to its strategic location on the Pacific Coast, which makes it an integral drug trafficking route.
The region is also a center for drug cultivation and, according to Wolf, accounts for 25% of Colombia’s coca plantations.
According to the governor, the area’s problems are also fueled by high unemployment, which has been exacerbated in recent years by palm plantations that take up large amounts of farmland but require few workers.