On November 29, the Colombian Army reported the capture of 12 members of Estructura 48, a dissident group of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish), in Putumayo department, bordering Ecuador. The detainees had infiltrated different companies, where they were in charge of obtaining supplies for the production of coca base paste, and had an arrest warrant for seizing and receiving hydrocarbons and conspiring to commit a crime, the Army said in a statement.
Intelligence information obtained by elements of the 27th Brigade, a unit of the Army’s Sixth Division, helped plan raids in the Orito and La Hormiga municipalities, which facilitated the arrests, the Army stated.
“In operations coordinated with the National Police and the Putumayo Police Department, Army troops dealt a strong blow to the groups in charge of the illicit economies of Estructura 48 […]. These people are charged with homicide, displacement [of people], illicit enrichment, narcotrafficking, and illegal possession of weapons,” Brigadier General Jorge Hernando Herrera Díaz, commander of the Army’s Sixth Division, said at a press conference.
In one of the raids, service members destroyed a coca base paste lab that had 600 kilograms of coca leaf, 908.4 liters of coca leaf in process, 832.8 liters of processed gasoline, and 151.4 liters of gasoline, among other supplies and materials for cocaine production, the Army said.
“This is a dedicated, long-term intelligence job that the troops and the Police have carried out […] to counter the criminal action of these groups that commit crimes in [Putumayo] department and in Lower Putumayo,” Brig. Gen. Herrera added. According to the officer, the detainees are likely linked to the criminal group Comandos de la Frontera (CDF, in Spanish), which operates on the border with Ecuador.
InsightCrime, an international organization specializing in threats to security in Latin America, said in a September 2020 report that CDF was likely a new name for the criminal group La Mafia. “Despite its various names, the CDF consists of elements of the 48 Front [also known as Estructura 48] of the former FARC mafia […],” InsightCrime said. The organization specifies that Putumayo ranks third among Colombian departments in coca cultivation.
According to data the Army provided to Diálogo, between January 1 to December 10, 2020, the institution has captured more than 800 criminal group members, seized 25,944 kg of cocaine and 33,760 kg of marijuana, and destroyed 72 cocaine labs, among other operational results.