Some 500 members of the armed forces arrived in the southwest Colombia town of Tumaco Friday to reinforce security in the port town that has been battered by terrorist attacks and intimidation of drug trafficking organizations.
The reinforcements were promised by President Juan Manuel Santos in September, but were not officially deployed until Friday afternoon when Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon officially inaugurated the Navy operation.
The extra troops are to “frontally combat drug trafficking, which is the main source of income of crime, of terrorism” that has the town and surrounding area living in fear and violence for years.
According to Pinzon, five rebels were arrested over the attack Friday and will be charged for the terrorist attack.
The navy personnel sent to Tumaco have the task of patrolling the region that is one of Colombia’s main exit points for cocaine heading to Ecuador and Central America.
The troubled Tumaco region has the highest murder rate in the country, primarily because of its strategic location for drug trafficking and the high presence of illegal armed groups like the FARC, the smaller ELN and the powerful “Rastrojos” drug cartel.