Colombia’s Military Offensive Against Cocaine

Colombia’s Military Offensive Against Cocaine

By Yolima Dussán / Diálogo
March 24, 2020

On February 21, 2020, service members of the 24th Infantry Battalion of the Colombian Army’s 22nd Jungle Brigade, together with units of Colombia’s Anti-narcotics Police, located and dismantled a lab that produced about 1,323 pounds of cocaine hydrochloride a month in Miraflores municipality, Guaviare department.

The 24th Infantry Battalion of the Colombian Army’s 22nd Jungle Brigade destroyed a “kitchen,” a makeshift lab, easy to set up and difficult to locate, used to produce coca base paste, on February 21, 2020. (Photo: Colombian Army)

The lab, known as a “kitchen,” is used to produce coca base paste. The makeshift lab is a cheap, and easy to set up structure.

“The cocaine hydrochloride production here was valued at $1.5 million a month,” Colombian Army Colonel Norberto Salgado Zubieta, commander of the 22nd Jungle Brigade, told Diálogo. “With this operation, we affected the economy of Estructura Primera, a residual group of the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], whose members are also largely responsible for the deforestation in the area.”

This operation adds to the results obtained in the military offensive against narcotrafficking in Guaviare, underway since January 2020.

“In different military and interagency operations, we’ve managed this year [2020] to destroy 22 cocaine base paste labs and to eradicate more than 546 acres of coca plantations manually; and we’ve arrested 30 people,” Col. Salgado said.

According to the 22nd Jungle Brigade’s press office, the impact on the finances of residual armed groups in the area includes the location of 108 greenhouses with coca seedlings containing about 16 million plants, representing a monthly loss of around $63 million for those illegal groups.

The military offensive has extended to controlling environmental crimes. Recent interceptions prevented the felling of about 3,489 acres of protected jungle, where criminals use the land to plant coca and other illegal crops, said the 22nd Jungle Brigade.