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Viewing cable 07BOGOTA1033, NEW CRIMINAL GROUPS ARE LAW ENFORCEMENT THREAT,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07BOGOTA1033 2007-02-13 17:05 2011-03-04 16:04 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
Appears in these articles:
http://www.elespectador.com/wikileaks
VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #1033/01 0441719
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 131719Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2681
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7403
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 8676
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ FEB LIMA 4746
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 9975
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5402
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3885
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHOND/DIRONDCP WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 001033 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/13/2017 
TAGS: KJUS PGOV PINR PREL PTER CO SNAR PREF
SUBJECT: NEW CRIMINAL GROUPS ARE LAW ENFORCEMENT THREAT, 
SHADOW OF EX-PARAMILITARIES 
 
REF: A. 06 BOGOTA 4750 
     B. 06 BOGOTA 10691 
     C. 06 BOGOTA 6262 
     D. 07 BOGOTA 581 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor John S. Creamer. 
Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1.  (C) The GOC and OAS say the new criminal groups that have 
appeared in certain regions lack the organization, reach, and 
military capacity of the former AUC.  Rather, they are 
primarily decentralized criminal operations that have used 
some demobilized paramilitaries, as well the former AUC's 
informant and drug processing/distribution networks, to 
continue narcotrafficking and other illegal activities.  To 
date, the GOC's efforts to combat these groups and internal 
criminal feuds have resulted in 150 deaths, 909 captures, and 
234 arrest warrants issued.  The GOC believes the new groups 
are a law enforcement matter, not a national security threat, 
and is targeting them aggressively.  End summary. 
 
------------------------------------- 
Who are the Emerging Criminal Groups? 
------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (C) The GOC and the Mission to Support the Peace Process 
in Colombia (MAPP/OAS) estimate there are 21 new criminal 
structures with roughly 3,000 members, among them common 
criminals, narcotraffickers, demobilized paramilitaries, and 
paramilitaries who never demobilized (ref B).  Most leaders 
are former mid-level paramilitary members but, on average, 
demobilized paramilitaries account for less than 20 percent 
of the groups' members. 
 
3.  (C) MAPP/OAS analysts say these groups are well-armed, 
but widely dispersed.  They appear to have no political 
ideology, common organization or operations.  They fight the 
FARC and ELN in Meta and Vichada for control of illegal 
activities, but, in general, do not mount the 
counterinsurgency-type operations conducted by the AUC.  An 
exception is Narino, where OAS/MAPP head Sergio Caramagna and 
local UN High Commission for Refugees representative Roberto 
Maier told us members of the Organizacion Nueva Generacion 
cooperate with the Colombian military to combat the FARC.  On 
the north coast, which was formerly controlled by 
paramilitary leader Jorge 40, the FARC and ELN presence is 
minimal, and the criminal groups function as an urban mafia. 
 
4.   (C) Institute for Development and Peace Studies 
(Indepaz) Director Camilo Gonzalez confirmed to us on 
February 9 that the new groups do not consider themselves 
counterinsurgency forces.  Their size and operations are much 
smaller than the former paramilitary forces.  Still, 
similarities include their geographic areas of operations and 
the types of illegal activities in which they engage. 
Gonzalez said most group members who have died have been 
killed in internal battles over control of activities, such 
as narcotrafficking and extortion. 
 
5.  (C) Despite some of the differences between the former 
AUC and the new criminal groups, the GOC's Communities at 
Risk Program Director Sandra Pinzon said on February 1 that 
grass roots communities suffering from the groups' criminal 
activities do not distinguish between them and the AUC. 
MAPP/OAS regional representatives agree, saying they have 
heard complaints that some new criminal groups use AUC 
emblems and other insignias, such as the Black Eagles, or 
"Aguilas Negras," to instill fear.  Still, the groups lack a 
national network such as the AUC, and only cooperate with 
each other when it advances their financial interests. 
Colonel Jose Humberto Henao, who is in charge of a special 
squadron to combat the groups in Norte de Santander, told us 
 
on February 7 the national "myth" of the Aguilas Negras began 
in Norte de Santander, but he has not seen a broader effort 
by the group to expand its operations beyond the area. 
 
------------ 
GOC Response 
------------ 
 
6.  (C) The GOC in March 2006 created an interagency group to 
coordinate efforts against the new groups (ref C).  Director 
for Rural Security Police ("Carabineros") General Jesus A. 
Gomez Mendez directs this effort and told us on February 9 
GOC actions to date have led to 150 deaths, 909 captures, and 
234 arrest warrants issued.  The GOC has also identified a 
further 459 members.  Of the 30 criminal groups discovered so 
far, the GOC has forced nine to disband, captured seven 
ringleaders or financiers, and killed two more.  In addition, 
five leaders or financiers were murdered by their own people. 
 Of the 909 members captured, all remain under arrest.  Some 
166, or 18.3 percent, are demobilized paramilitaries. 
 
7.  (C) Gomez Mendez said the GOC's strategy to combat the 
groups involves: (1) collection of information; (2) 
verification and exchange of information; (3) execution of 
operations; and (4) legal investigation and prosecution.  He 
is creating special squadrons to combat the new groups, and 
is boosting the number of police substations and personnel in 
areas most at risk.  The first squadron was created in Norte 
de Santander early this year, and consists of Police, Armed 
Forces, Fiscalia, Department of Administrative Security 
(DAS), and Public Ministry officials.  It delivered its first 
results in January with the discovery of a sizeable 
drug-processing laboratory belonging to an emerging criminal 
group in Los Patios, Norte de Santander.  The CNP has also 
opened 15 new substations in vulnerable areas of Narino, 
Norte de Santander, Choco, Putumayo, Vichada, Casanare, 
Cordoba, and Cesar, manned by an average of 40 officers. 
Gomez Mendez said MAPP/OAS plans to monitor the 107 
Carabinero Stations opened in areas with large demobilized 
populations.  Police Intelligence analysts told us February 5 
they are planning joint operations with the Finance Ministry 
to target the new groups' finances. 
 
-------------------- 
Remaining Challenges 
-------------------- 
 
8.  (C) Gomez Mendez highlighted the three challenges to 
fully dismantle these structures: topography, infiltration, 
and money.  First, most key leaders are hiding in rural areas 
or hard-to-reach places.  Second, they have "collaborators 
and infiltrators" in their areas of operations and in GOC 
institutions that tip them off if there is an operation 
underway.  XXXXXXXXXXXX Intel officer XXXXXXXXXXXX
estimated that almost 250 of the approximately 330-340 
members of new criminal groups operating in Uraba had prior 
military experience.  These ex-military often receive advance 
notice of operations from their former colleagues.  Lastly, 
there is "lots of money" in the business, which allows the 
groups to be well-armed and to corrupt public institutions, 
making it hard for the State to compete.  Despite their 
growth, General Gomez Mendez does not believe the new groups 
will become a national threat if current GOC efforts against 
them continue. 
 
9.  (C) In contrast, MAPP/OAS and Indepaz analysts warned it 
would be hard to fully dismantle the groups because of their 
"mafia-like structures," including extensive informant and 
drug processing/distribution networks.  MAPP/OAS Analytical 
Unit Coordinator Juan Carlos Garzon explained these groups 
could recover more easily than the FARC or ELN from GOC 
military actions because they do not need much leadership or 
social base.  MAPP/OAS and Indepaz regional representatives 
say the groups are rebuilding criminal networks previously 
run by the AUC. 
 
10. (C) In some regions, residents complain criminal group 
members still assist the Public Forces.  Former paramilitary 
leaders Macaco, El Aleman and Jorge 40 told MAPP/OAS 
officials there was an agreement with the GOC that their 
informant networks would be incorporated into the military's 
"red de cooperantes" program.  DAS Director Andres Penate 
denied this.  He said during the GOC-AUC negotiations, the 
GOC rejected an AUC proposal that some of its members be 
authorized to carry arms for self-defense.  Instead, the GOC 
agreed to set up "red de cooperantes" networks--from which 
ex-paramilitaries were excluded--in areas where large numbers 
of demobilized settled.  Still, XXXXXXXXXXXX intel 
officer XXXXXXXXXXXX told us he has incorporated former members of 
El Aleman's Elmer Cardenas block--with the approval of GOC 
civilian authorities--into his red de cooperantes.  XXXXXXXXXXXX 
said the former paramilitaries are providing good information 
on a new criminal group in Uraba associated with 
ex-paramilitary leader Vicente Castano. 
 
11.  (C) Former paramilitary leaders Salvatore Mancuso and 
Carlos Mario Jimenez (AKA "Macaco") said paramilitary leaders 
who refused to demobilize were behind the creation of new 
paramilitary groups and 5,000 of the 31,000 paramilitaries 
who demobilized are rearming.  Indepaz analysts noted 
Mancuso's and Macaco's comments were self-serving as they are 
seeking more benefits from the Justice and Peace Law process. 
 Many observers agree that paramilitary leaders who refused 
to turn themselves in, such as Vicente Castano, "HH," 
"Cuchillo," and "Los Mellizos," are behind many of the new 
groups.  OAS's Garzon doubted the ex-paramilitary leaders, 
who turned themselves in, involvement because could negate 
their favorable benefits under the Justice and Peace Law and 
they could be extradited. 
DRUCKER