Colombian authorities melt firearms to keep them away from the FARC and the ELN
By Dialogo September 01, 2014
The government of Colombia recently melted down 18,000 firearms that security forces had seized from two terrorist groups, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and several criminal gangs.
Authorities will use the metal from the melted down weapons to help build schools and hospitals.
Officials began melting the seized weapons in large furnaces at the National Steel (SIDENAL) facility on July 22 according to a press release from the General Command of the Military Forces of Colombia. The facility is located in the town of Sogamoso, department of Bocayá.
The Armed Forces and National Police (PNC) agents seized the weapons in 2014 during several coordinated joint operations which also involved the Attorney General’s office, according to the General Command. These efforts were supported by the mayors of several towns. In some towns, the disarmament campaigns were organized by citizens.
It was the largest operation the Armed Forces has carried out in recent years to melt down weapons seized from suspected terrorists and criminals, Vanguardia reported.
The campaign complies with several international commitments, among them the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms (CIFTA).
Handguns, machine guns, rifles, and shotguns
Security forces transferred the seized weapons to the Department for the Control and Sale of Arms and Explosives (DCCA) – among them, handguns, automatic machine guns, rifles and shotguns. The firearms, most purchased illegally, were valued at about five million pesos.
The DCCA takes an inventory of the weapons, which authorities keep for three months. After the weapons have been stored for three months, authorities begin to destroy them, according to Col. Enrique Arturo Torres Arciniegas, director of the DCCA.
From 1992 to November 2013, Colombia melted down more than 400,000 weapons seized from criminals and criminal organizations, the General Command reported.
It typically takes DCCA three to four days to melt down the weapons.
Authorities will use the iron and steel from the weapons to reinforce the foundations and columns of hospitals, schools and houses in areas where the military’s “Sword of Honor” plan is in effect, according to El Colombiano.
Sword of Honor is a strategic military plan to aggressively confront the FARC, the ELN, and other armed criminal groups. The goal of the program is to dramatically reduce the capacity of the insurgency and to improve public safety. President Juan Manuel Santos announced the launch of the Sword of Honor initiative in February 2012.
Since authorities launched Sword of Honor, 93 percent of the country’s municipalities have been free of guerilla attacks, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón said on August 3.
Destroying weapons to improve public safety
The FARC and the ELN have about 10,000 and 3,000 members, respectively, according to Nestor Rosania. He’s the director of the Center for Security Studies, Defense, and Internal Affairs of Colombia (CESDAI).
The FARC purchases firearms on the black and gray markets, said Yadira Gálvez, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
“It is very difficult to trace the origin of the weapons. These arms virtually come from gray or black markets,” Gálvez said. “The black market is related to direct trafficking; the weapons are sold illegally right from the beginning. The gray market has weapons that enter (the market) legally and are later stolen or transferred.”
Authorities believe that melting down large numbers of weapons that might otherwise be used by terrorists and organized crime operatives helps improve public safety and save lives.
Using the steel obtained from melted down weapons to help build schools and hospitals sends a symbolic message about the importance of peace, Gálvez said.
“The Colombian government is delivering on these goals to prevent repeated cycles of violence,” the security analyst said.
Between 1958 and 2012, the conflict between the FARC and government killed 220,000 people, according to ¡Basta ya!, a report from the Colombian National Center of Historical Memory.
Since 1994, drug traffickers have killed about 20,000 people, according to the Economist. About 5,200 of these people were police officers.
Security initiative to reduce gun violence
Colombian security using various initiatives to seize guns from terrorists and organized crime groups and to interrupt drug smuggling networks:
• On Aug. 11, National Police agents in the El Páramo district, in Cúcuta, captured José Giordano Grass Prieto, who is also known as “El Armero.” Police captured El Armero inside a clandestine workshop which was allegedly used to store, repair, and alter firearms for Los Rastrojos, a drug trafficking group. Police seized a shotgun, molds to manufacture ammunition magazines, and drums for revolvers, Vanguardia reported
• On July 31, the Criminal Investigations Directorate of the National Police finished dismantling a gang that allegedly built submarines used by organized crime groups to transport weapons and drugs. Police arrested Alexander Giraldo Santa, who is also known as “El Ingeniero” or “Chiqui.” He has allegedly manufactured boats for the Clan de Úsuga since 2011, according to the website Veracruzanos.
Colombian security forces will remain vigilant in the battle against firearms violence, President Santos said.
“We will not lower our guard. We will continue fighting the guerrillas and transnational organized crime syndicates,” President Santos said on August 5 during the commemoration of the National Army’s 195th anniversary.
Wonderful. I hope they exterminate the FARCs and the ELN for the sake of Colombia and mankind. An iron fist with weapon and drug trafficking to stop this violence now. I love it, congratulations!! This is good. There should be no weapons left in the planet. EXCELLENT, THE MORE WEAPONS ARE MELTED THE LESS WARS AND DELINQUENCY THERE WILL BE. THE SAME SHOULD APPLY WITH DRUGS. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE GOVERNMENT. I'd just like to know if here in Bolivia the authorities are going to do something for the safety of the citizens? I pray to God that he be the one to guide our authorities to find a way to end the weaponry that as of now, even the most humble people have them and can find them anywhere because there are no measures that forbid its use or acquisition. That's good. There should be no arms left in the world. The information is very good and of current interest regarding the fight against terrorism. Hope you succeed and keep it up. I really liked this idea. I wish they would do the same thing with drug trafficking. Very good. I congratulate you. I hope and God willing that they would do the same thing in Venezuela against the underworld; deaths going unpunished every day, no medicine or diapers for babies, food more and more expensive, personal items aren't [illegible]. Where will we end up? But carry on, God will save us. I'd love to know about the peace process. What a farce. Where are the actual executioners behind this???? Fabulous. I hope the world's terrorists, the U.S. do this, too. This is also being done by the Venezuelan government. I think it's good that the government is doing it, is should keep doing in order to prevent so many deaths. It's a good response to the enemies of Colombia and of freedom. THE ENTIRE WORLD NEEDS PEACE - WAR IS A BUSINESS THAT NEEDS TO END NOW - NO MORE CASUALTIES, SUFFERING AND PAIN FOR HUMANITY. Good day, I hope the idea is implemented her because there are more bullies and thieves here who kill because here is no arms control I think that here the government itself seizes them then sells them again to the criminals. This is horrible with all the insecurity and lack of goods The important thing is to follow the line, less words and more facts. The weapons they melt are obsolete Excellent idea because no war is good, and having the weapons creates the temptation of using them again. A nation is not measured by the number of weapons it has, but by the education of its people. It'd be good to transform weapons into shovels, hoes, tools for heavy work and give them to people to get an education on land or do courses at the SENA, or to people who suffered a loss in the family due to the misuse of these weapons. Yet another lie, always deceiving and lying to the people and the naive believe it! What a farce ! All the countries should. be of one mind to put an end to all the weapons. Because they put an end to the beautiful creation of our God which is us, all human beings. Very good government measure. verygood Wonderful and important for peace and reconciliation in our country, which is what we've been begging for, in order for there to be true progress. We should not just melt down the weapons, but the criminals, too, and create jobs so that others don't go down the same path. That is how to bring peace. osver.
I think this is a tremendous initiative to destroy elements of war and turn them into instruments of peace, solid bases to create educational spaces for a better future for our youth. This is great for all the people and entities involved in the melting of firearms in exchange for dreams and hope. KEEP DESTROYING THEM -- THERE SHOULD BE NO FIREARMS -- ONLY FOR NATIONAL DEFENSE As long as corruption in the armed forces is not controlled, there will always be weapons for sale and the business will never go away. A double standard that only favors the current government to make people believe we live in a peaceful haven. I liked it because I could learn more about the FARC and the weapons The war business has to be deactivated in order to invest in the country's development, and in improving the quality of life of the people. Whatever Santos thinks or says, are lies. He's cynical, false. It's a stupid little story to say schools are made in Colombia with the iron from revolvers. G.Uribe. P. Wouldn't it be better to put an end to abject poverty, unemployment and injustice? Even if the weapons that are found are melted down, what do we do with the U.S., the main supplier of weapons in the world? They are the greatest creators of violence that exist, but since our governments are puppets of the gringos, no one says anything against them. The war in Colombia is as much internal as external. No, well, given the approval Mr. National Prosecutor Montealegre gives to the FARC terrorists, the military and police forces have their hands tied, because of the implications that could befall the Armed Forces of Colombia. I can't understand what interest this prosecutor has to pardon these narco terrorists and relentlessly go after the forces of law and order in my country. Or is it that this is the prosecutor who receives money from the FARC? An accusation made by an Army General. Why doesn't hr open an investigation against former Senator Piedad CÃ³rdoba, when she urged the indigenous people in Cauca and the coca growers to expel the public forces, isn't that a crime? Or is it that this Prosecutor believes the left is in charge and can break the laws as many times as they want? Does this prosecutor know it's a crime against humanity? Montealegre, father of the genocidal FARC, EP. For sure he'll have me investigated now. The best thing they can do is to melt down the weapons confiscated from illegal groups so they don't get returned to criminal activities. This way they are in the custody of security forces.