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Colombia, Canada and the Fake Guerrillas

March 23, 2015: In March 2006, 62 fighters from the Cacica Gaitana Front of Colombia’s FARC guerrillas handed in their weapons in the largest rebel demobilization in 50 years of war, and a major publicity coup for the government of then-President Alvaro Uribe. There was just one problem: the Cacica Gaitana Front never existed. The “demobilization” … Continue reading

Would Colombia Peace Deal Curb the Coca Trade? Ask a Coca Farmer

January 15, 2015: Burro, or Donkey, as his friends call him because of his large ears and goofy smile, shyly shows off his hands. They’re covered with greenish black stains from the morning’s work – stripping coca leaves – and burns from the chemicals used to process the plant into cocaine paste. “It’s good work,” he … Continue reading

The Lives of Cocaine Growers

January 19, 2015: Some were reticent as they mumbled their troubles, while others launched into angry diatribes. But each of the farmers to address the crowd echoed the same concern: “Can we live in a Colombia without coca?” They may soon find out. Read full story at Ozy.com  

Colombia’s Contraband Battle: Special Investigation

November 17, 2014: It’s a business worth an estimated $6 billion a year. In this special series InSight Crime looks at the links between Colombia’s contraband trade and organized crime. Cucuta: Colombia’s Contraband City The Colombian border town of Cucuta has smuggling coursing through its veins, underpinning its economy and strengthening organized crime, which is raking … Continue reading

The Downfall of Colombia’s Billion-Dollar Gasoline Smuggler

November 18, 2014: Marcos Figueroa had friends in the highest office and the lowest corner of the Colombian state of La Guajira. From a poor indigenous family, Figueroa rose to wealth and power … to become the most wanted man in northeast Colombia. Until his arrest on Oct. 22. In the Colombia-Venezuela border region, the man known … Continue reading

Colombians Object to Deals that Take Criminals Out of the Country

September 15, 2014:  “Better a tomb in Colombia than a cell in the United States.” That was the battle cry of the first generation of Colombian drug lords when they declared war against extradition in the 1980s. How the world has changed. Thirty years on, a trip to the United States is often the first … Continue reading

Is the Sinaloa Cartel Now a Player in Medellin?

August 1 2014: A mafia boss is found slumped in a car park in an exclusive neighborhood with four bullets in his head. Grenade attacks and hitmen on motorbikes leave a trail of dead downtown.Colombia‘s most fearsome criminal organization plays peacemaker to warring street gangs, while Mexico‘s leading drugcartel floods the city with money and … Continue reading

Who Controls Medellin? Fragile Peace in Colombia’s ‘Model’ City

  July 18th 2014: The labyrinth of streets making up Medellín’s hillside slums are filled with what locals here call an “apparent calm.” Food vendors are out in force, music blares from bars and shops, and old men sit outside sipping tiny plastic cups of coffee, watching the world go by. But behind these everyday scenes … Continue reading

Eco-Trafficking in Latin America: The Workings of a Billion Dollar Business

7th July 2014: Eco-trafficking is no longer the preserve of a handful of poachers, loggers and specialized smugglers, but has become a billion-dollar trade run by transnational organized crime networks that spread corruption, violence and environmental destruction in their wake throughout Latin America. The natural resources of South and Central America make rich pickings for savvy … Continue reading

The Messi Scandal: From Charity Soccer Games to Money Laundering Accusations

3rd June 2014: Come the start of the World Cup in June, soccer fans in Argentina will be investing their hopes and dreams in the astonishing talents of their iconic striker Lionel Messi, who over the last decade has broken countless records and opposition defenses alike. But hanging over Messi’s head is an ongoing scandal that … Continue reading