Colombia: Chaos Coming for Cocaine Cartels

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September 22, 2007: As expected, Venezuela openly backed a FARC demand for a large sanctuary in southern Colombia, as a prelude to talks, brokered by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. FARC is losing its decades old battle to establish a communist dictatorship in Colombia, and is seeing its ability to control drug producing regions taken away by constant army attacks. The fighting in western Colombia is particularly intense, with clashes taking place along the coca producing mountains just inland from the coast. Coastal areas, needed for getting the drugs out of the country, are also under attack, along with the southern and eastern border areas.

The capture of drug cartel boss Diego Leon Montoya Sanchez last week ended with the gangster offering the dozen or so commandos arresting him, five million dollars each to let him go. Captured records indicated that Montoyas bribes had worked many times before. So far, 26 officers and sergeants have been arrested for taking Montoyas money. Security forces are bracing for the civil war that always follows the death or capture of a major drug cartel chief. Montoya ran the North Valley cartel, the largest in the country, and responsible for over half the cocaine shipments. Meanwhile, a former AUC leader, Carlos Mario Jimenez, who had accepted the amnesty and was in jail, was charged with continuing to run his drug smuggling operation. Jimenez had his amnesty deal revoked. He will be extradited to the U.S. for trial, and nearly 150 members of his gang have been arrested.

FARC will be hurt by the cartel civil war, and is scrambling to get support from wherever it can. The FARC sanctuary is very important right now. This was tried by Uribe's predecessor, and failed (FARC used the sanctuary as a base of operations, and peace negotiations went nowhere). Leftist politicians in the U.S. are also trying to help FARC by cutting military and economic aid to Colombia. The U.S. is trying to persuade Venezuela's Chavez to really help free the FARC kidnap victims, but Chavez seems more intent on grabbing the limelight, and helping fellow leftists in FARC.

 

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