A very successful tactic against the drug and rebel groups is to
concentrate on their leadership. Arresting and extraditing these men to the
U.S. has proved an excellent way to interrupt gang operations. In America,
bribes are much less effective, the courts more reliable, and the prisons much
more secure. But it appears even Cuba can be enlisted to help out. Three years
ago, a cartel leader was stopped in a Cuban airport for using a false passport.
The gangster is now being threatened with life imprisonment for traveling on
false documents. Then again, this might just be a negotiating tactic, over how
large a bribe will be needed to get the cartel leader out of Cuba.
21, 2007:On the Pacific coast, FARC bombed a police station, killing two
cops and three civilians. This was the third attack in a week on the Pacific
port city of Buenaventura. This port is a a major staging area for exported
cocaine, and FARC wants to keep control.
19, 2007:The government is forming a special security force to go after
former AUC members who have gone back to criminal activities. The former AUC
men are particularly dangerous, because many of them had connections in the
army and police, which were used to coordinate operations against leftist
rebels (FARC and ELN). The AUC was basically a coalition of vigilante militias
formed by land owners and middle class people in the countryside, to protect
themselves from the leftist groups. Formerly an open secret, AUC members
who have accepted the amnesty deal, now talk openly of their cooperation with
the government in their battle with the leftists.
18, 2007:In the south, FARC and the Nestle Corporation (which is a major
processor of milk from local dairymen) are locked in an extortion battle. FARC
wants Nestle to pay "revolutionary taxes." Nestle has refused, and in
the last week, FARC has destroyed two Nestle processing plants. In the last
year, FARC has had to use more muscle to sustain its extortion operations, as
more companies feel confident enough (in government security forces) to refuse
to pay. But FARC appears determined to destroy Nestle operations in the area to
make an example.
16, 2007:Acting on a tip, police raided three houses and discovered $54
million cash and gold. This was the cash reserve of a drug cartel. Because of
constant surveillance by the police, it's difficult to get drug profits to an
off-shore bank. So the gangs often hide it. Over the past few years, two other
such caches ($39 million and $16 million) have been found. These caches are bad
for the economy, as they take money out of circulation. The drug trade in
general distorts the economy. For example, the drug gangs maintain large number
of people as armed guards and security personnel, who produce nothing but
protection for the drug production. The drug gangs have reproduced all the
economic inefficiency of a communist police state, but sustained it with the
high prices they get for their cocaine in North America and Europe.