Colombia: Emails Reveal Possible Collaboration Between Drug Trafficking Rivals

Colombia’s FARC guerillas may be working under the table with their supposed bitter enemies in the ultra-right paramilitary groups.

E-mails released by authorities last week reportedly reveal that the FARC and Los Urabeños paramilitary have been collaborating to traffic drugs and weapons. In one of the undated e-mails, a FARC fighter known as Ruben Manteco wrote to Pastor Alape—one of the FARC’s top commanders and a representative in Havana for peace talks with the Colombian government—and referred to a gift offered the FARC by Otoniel, the notorious Urabeño warlord.

According to the e-mail exchange, Otoniel sent $170,000 as a good-will gesture to prove his reliability as a business partner. Alape instructed Manteco to accept the gift, adding that he should pursue negotiations on arms deals once confidence in the partnership was established.

Another e-mail exchange revealed plans for a FARC-Urabeño collaboration in drug trafficking. In that exchange, Roman Ruiz, a FARC commander who was killed in a Colombian army offensive earlier this year, suggested to Alape that the guerrillas raise the price on cocaine exports. Other e-mails indicate that the FARC has been providing security to the Urabeños during their drug operations, while also helping to broker deals.

The revelations come amid an ongoing government crackdown on Los Urabeños—although Otoniel remains at large.

Last month, Colombia’s National Police seized properties totaling $30 million that were said to be under the control of the Urabeños—bringing the total of narco-tainted properties seized from the gang to $74 million. The crackdown, dubbed “Operation Agamemnon,” has focused on the northwestern region of Antioquia, including Colombia’s second-largest city, Medellín, and the port city of Barranquilla.

Authorities also claimed the arrest of Nelson Hoyos Sepúlveda, AKA “Zeta 5″—a regional commander of Los Urabeños in the Córdoba region. He is the most prominent among 353 detained in Operation Agamemnon, with more than 14 tons of cocaine reported seized.

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