The fight against narcotrafficking and organized crime continues unabated in Colombia, and the Military Forces are proving increasingly efficient in their operations. As such, in mid-June, through two operations, Army and Navy troops attached to the Titán Joint Force destroyed 20 cocaine laboratories, dealing a hard blow to the finances of the Clan del Golfo in just 72 hours.
The labs, found in Colombia’s Pacific department of Chocó with the support of the National Police, reportedly had a production capacity of around 2,000 kilograms of coca base paste per month and allegedly belonged to the Carlos Vásquez substructure of the Clan del Golfo, the Army said.
The operations resulted in the seizure of some 23,300 liters of coca base in solution, nearly 17,000 liters of gasoline, more than 9,500 liters of motor fuel oil, 335 kg of chopped coca leaf, as well as tools, such as scales, fumigators, and scythes, among others, the Army added.
“Approximately a month and a half before [the operation], intelligence was identifying the sites where these laboratories were established, and the goal was to do something on a large scale, to significantly impact the finances of the organized armed groups that commit crimes in the region,” Colombian Army Lieutenant Colonel Jaime Alejandro Amaya Sánchez, commander of Jungle Battalion No. 54, Bajo Atrato, part of the VII Division, Joint Task Force Titán, told Diálogo.
After tactical intelligence carried out reconnaissance and identified the areas to carry out the operations, it was decided to start from the municipality of Carepa, Antioquia. Army units then infiltrated by air and in the river, with the support of naval assets.
“Their finances are their center of gravity and the operation was focused on attacking the economic instability factor,” Lt. Col. Amaya said. Likewise, the economic impact of this operation on the Clan del Golfo leads to instability, because by making it harder for them to pay their members and to buy arms and ammunition, it can encourage voluntary surrender to the troops, he added.
“Chocó is one of the most complex regions in Colombia in terms of access; it’s a region with many social and economic problems; in Riosucio and Carmen del Darién, the roads are really rivers and channels,” Lt. Col. Amaya said. “This forces us to exercise territorial control by land, on foot. Cars don’t make it there, the troops are inserted via helicopters or through the Navy, through their riverine units […].”
Throughout 2022, up to June 27, in the municipalities of Riosucio and Carmen del Darién, the Jungle Battalion No. 54 destroyed 55 laboratories for the production of coca base paste, four illegal warehouses, and 15 seedbeds. It also seized more than 46,000 liters of coca base paste in process; more than 55,000 liters of liquid chemical precursors; 5,359 kg of solid chemical precursors, and eradicated 500 hectares of coca crops, Lt. Col. Amaya said.