In late June, the Colombian Navy dealt a blow to dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish) on the Pacific coast of the Nariño department. Authorities destroyed two cocaine processing labs and seized illicit drugs, as well as solid and liquid chemical precursors used to manufacture the drugs, the Colombian Military Forces’ General Command (CGFM, in Spanish) reported in a statement.
The labs had a production capacity of half a ton of cocaine per month, the CGFM said. During simultaneous operations, authorities seized cocaine base paste and several liters of fuel. According to the CGFM, these operations dealt a nearly $16 million blow to the finances of criminal gangs Franco Benavides Mobile Column and Los Contadores, which engage in drug production, commercialization, and distribution in the region.
“These residual organized armed groups, FARC dissidents, commit crimes on the Nariño Pacific coast and fund their criminal operations with illicit activities, mainly narcotrafficking,” Vice Admiral Francisco Hernando Cubides Granados, commander of the Colombian Navy Pacific Naval Force (FNP, in Spanish), told Diálogo. “Their sole interest is based on controlling the main routes to smuggle cocaine and/or marijuana toward Central America or North America.”
In the two labs found in rural areas in the Olaya Herrera and Tumaco municipalities, troops of the 4th Marine Infantry Brigade found 20 kilograms of cocaine, 15 kg of coca base paste, 416 liters of fuel, 1,625 kg of coca leaf, 1,114 kg of solid chemical precursors, 9,346 liters of liquid chemical precursors, and equipment for drug processing.
In parallel, on rivers of nearby municipalities, the naval forces seized 183 kg of cocaine base paste and 5,678 liters of fuel that criminals were illegally transporting in motorboats.
“Illicit drug trafficking continues to be the most lucrative business for FARC dissidents, organized armed groups, and organized crime groups in the Pacific region, as well as the main triggering factor for violence in the departments of Cauca, Chocó, Nariño, and Valle del Cauca,” Vice Adm. Cubides said. “With the proceeds of this illicit business, these criminal groups finance the acquisition of weapons, ammunition, and powerful explosives, which they use to strengthen their criminal activities to frighten, intimidate, displace, and attack the civilian population and the Public Force.”
In the first half of 2021, Vice Adm. Cubides said, the FNP seized 84 tons of cocaine and 38 tons of marijuana in the Pacific coast of Colombia. Authorities also intercepted 16 semisubmersibles and more than 76 boats used for narcotrafficking.
“In addition to these results, we should also consider the impact on the different links in the alkaloid production chain, with the eradication of 842 hectares of illicit crops on Nariño’s Pacific coast, as well as the destruction of more than 50 illegal complexes used for coca base paste processing and cocaine crystallization,” the officer added.