Colombian National Army’s Vulcan Task Force Provides Security in Catatumbo Region

Colombian National Army’s Vulcan Task Force Provides Security in Catatumbo Region

By Dialogo
January 08, 2015





The Vulcano Task Force, a special unit of the Colombian Army’s Second Division, is spearheading a massive military and social campaign to oust illegal armed groups from the Catatumbo region.

Soldiers with the Task Force are confronting groups, such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and the Popular Liberation Army (EPL), as well as criminal gangs with the aim of weakening them. They’ve have made important gains in Catabumbo in 2014: The Task Force captured 339 members of illegal organizations, seized or destroyed more than three tons of explosives, interdicted nearly 10,000 ammunition cartridges, and confiscated hundreds of firearms.

A major blow to the ELN


Some of the Task Force’s confrontations with terrorists have become violent.

For example, on December 23, Soldiers with the Vulcano Task Force engaged a group of ELN terrorists near the town of El Tarra, in northeastern Colombia. Troops killed an ELN commander who is known as “Ramon” during the gun battle. Ramon had been with the ELN for 10 years and was in charge of much of the group’s drug trafficking operations, as well as buying and selling explosives, according to Military intelligence.

The death of Ramon is a major blow to the ELN’s operations in the Catatumbo region, according to the Colombian National Army.

“Catatumbo is a critical area due to its proximity to the Venezuelan border,” said Lieutenant Felix Cuevas, commander of the Vulcano Task Force’s Whole of Governemnt Action Company, a division that offers humanitarian aid to numerous communities in the Catatumbo region. “It has many resources such as oil. There are also many coca plantations in the area, and because of that it’s been the focus of several criminal groups.”

The Ministry of Defense created Vulcano in 2012 to counteract terrorist attacks in the Catatumbo region, where the FARC, the ELN, the EPL, and other criminal groups have harassed civilians in the area for at least 20 years.

History of terrorist operations


Since at least the early 1990s, the FARC, the ELN, and the EPL have operated along the Catatumbo River, a 311-mile waterway that starts in northern Colombia and ends in Lake Maracaibo, in Venezuela. Terrorist groups and other illegal organizations use the river to transport drugs, according to the Colombian Military.

Terrorist groups and criminal bands (BACRIM), including drug trafficking groups like the Clan Úsuga, which began operating in the region in 2006, have engaged in violent battles for control of the river and Catatumbo’s oil and mineral resources.

The Vulcano Task Force has, therefore, sought to weaken these criminal groups by targeting their finances and ability to conduct drug trafficking and terrorist operations.

For example, to hinder the finances of these illegal organizations, the Military group destroyed more than 420 cocaine paste laboratories and seized about 108,000 tons of liquid and solid cocaine-processing materials in 2014. The task force also located more than two million coca plants which were being used to produce cocaine, as well as 124 coca seedbeds, also being cultivated unlawfully.

Helping the civilian population


Confronting terrorist and illegal organizations is part of a broader strategy that also includes helping the civilian population in Catatumbo, according to Lt. Cuevas.

For instance, the Second Division, in cooperation with several government and private entities, has organized health and recreational activities recently in remote towns and villages. As part of this initiative, Soldiers with the Task Force escort dentists, physicians, and psychologists to distant communities, where the medical personnel provide free services to the civilian population. Vulcano Task Force Troops also bring with them Army Soldiers who perform as clowns and magicians for children in the communities they’re serving. People from neighboring villages often come to the health fairs as well, resulting in as many as 1,500 people receiving free services in a period of two or three days.

Soldiers also provide different equipment to help advance the civilian population. In November, Soldiers with the Army’s Second Division traveled to La Gabarra, a violence-stricken town in Catatumbo. There they donated 20 computers, several books, and two big-screen televisions to support the local school.

And in December, the Troops worked in cooperation with a local mall in Cúcuta, the capital city of the Department of Norte de Santander, to collect more than 3,000 presents for kids in the Catatumbo region. The Vulcano Task Force carried out six other similar activities in 2014 and another seven in 2013.

Providing health care and equipment is helping the Army win and maintain the support of the civilian population.

“Social activities are very important because no one else can reach the middle of the jungle with this kind of help,” Lt. Cuevas said. “It’s been going on for three years. And now the local population, despite the other groups in the area, is supporting the Army.”




The Vulcano Task Force, a special unit of the Colombian Army’s Second Division, is spearheading a massive military and social campaign to oust illegal armed groups from the Catatumbo region.

Soldiers with the Task Force are confronting groups, such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and the Popular Liberation Army (EPL), as well as criminal gangs with the aim of weakening them. They’ve have made important gains in Catabumbo in 2014: The Task Force captured 339 members of illegal organizations, seized or destroyed more than three tons of explosives, interdicted nearly 10,000 ammunition cartridges, and confiscated hundreds of firearms.

A major blow to the ELN


Some of the Task Force’s confrontations with terrorists have become violent.

For example, on December 23, Soldiers with the Vulcano Task Force engaged a group of ELN terrorists near the town of El Tarra, in northeastern Colombia. Troops killed an ELN commander who is known as “Ramon” during the gun battle. Ramon had been with the ELN for 10 years and was in charge of much of the group’s drug trafficking operations, as well as buying and selling explosives, according to Military intelligence.

The death of Ramon is a major blow to the ELN’s operations in the Catatumbo region, according to the Colombian National Army.

“Catatumbo is a critical area due to its proximity to the Venezuelan border,” said Lieutenant Felix Cuevas, commander of the Vulcano Task Force’s Whole of Governemnt Action Company, a division that offers humanitarian aid to numerous communities in the Catatumbo region. “It has many resources such as oil. There are also many coca plantations in the area, and because of that it’s been the focus of several criminal groups.”

The Ministry of Defense created Vulcano in 2012 to counteract terrorist attacks in the Catatumbo region, where the FARC, the ELN, the EPL, and other criminal groups have harassed civilians in the area for at least 20 years.

History of terrorist operations


Since at least the early 1990s, the FARC, the ELN, and the EPL have operated along the Catatumbo River, a 311-mile waterway that starts in northern Colombia and ends in Lake Maracaibo, in Venezuela. Terrorist groups and other illegal organizations use the river to transport drugs, according to the Colombian Military.

Terrorist groups and criminal bands (BACRIM), including drug trafficking groups like the Clan Úsuga, which began operating in the region in 2006, have engaged in violent battles for control of the river and Catatumbo’s oil and mineral resources.

The Vulcano Task Force has, therefore, sought to weaken these criminal groups by targeting their finances and ability to conduct drug trafficking and terrorist operations.

For example, to hinder the finances of these illegal organizations, the Military group destroyed more than 420 cocaine paste laboratories and seized about 108,000 tons of liquid and solid cocaine-processing materials in 2014. The task force also located more than two million coca plants which were being used to produce cocaine, as well as 124 coca seedbeds, also being cultivated unlawfully.

Helping the civilian population


Confronting terrorist and illegal organizations is part of a broader strategy that also includes helping the civilian population in Catatumbo, according to Lt. Cuevas.

For instance, the Second Division, in cooperation with several government and private entities, has organized health and recreational activities recently in remote towns and villages. As part of this initiative, Soldiers with the Task Force escort dentists, physicians, and psychologists to distant communities, where the medical personnel provide free services to the civilian population. Vulcano Task Force Troops also bring with them Army Soldiers who perform as clowns and magicians for children in the communities they’re serving. People from neighboring villages often come to the health fairs as well, resulting in as many as 1,500 people receiving free services in a period of two or three days.

Soldiers also provide different equipment to help advance the civilian population. In November, Soldiers with the Army’s Second Division traveled to La Gabarra, a violence-stricken town in Catatumbo. There they donated 20 computers, several books, and two big-screen televisions to support the local school.

And in December, the Troops worked in cooperation with a local mall in Cúcuta, the capital city of the Department of Norte de Santander, to collect more than 3,000 presents for kids in the Catatumbo region. The Vulcano Task Force carried out six other similar activities in 2014 and another seven in 2013.

Providing health care and equipment is helping the Army win and maintain the support of the civilian population.

“Social activities are very important because no one else can reach the middle of the jungle with this kind of help,” Lt. Cuevas said. “It’s been going on for three years. And now the local population, despite the other groups in the area, is supporting the Army.”
Because like everything in Colombia he who carries the burden are those who are uneducated. And to those life has not given good opportunities but not because they are ignorant but because they are honest and given their principles as people who fear the creator Lord Jesus Christ It's good these operations are carried out to liberate these lands from so many criminals and so much violence and the lack of security which they live under there, which is the worst thing in that area Thank you for giving us the security our department needs We have to be forceful against the bandits of the FARC. Defeat them militarily, so they don't believe they're untouchable Great for the military forces.
Share