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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08BOGOTA1509 2008-04-23 17:14:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
Cable title:  

NARCO INFIGHTING REEMERGES IN ANTIOQUIA AND CORDOBA

Tags:   MARR PGOV PINR CO PTER 
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VZCZCXYZ0007
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DE RUEHBO #1509/01 1141714
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 231714Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2486
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0298
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ APR 9390
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 6132
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 1569
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6784
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4391
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNDTA/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1918
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 001509 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/23/2018
TAGS: MARR PGOV PINR PTERR CO
SUBJECT: NARCO INFIGHTING REEMERGES IN ANTIOQUIA AND CORDOBA

REF: A. BOGOTA 1443 B. BOGOTA 1136 C. BOGOTA 645

Classified By: Political Counselor John S. Creamer.
Reasons 1.4 b and d.



1. (C) Summary: The Uraba region of Antioquia Department as
well as Cordoba Department--both of which contain major
narcotrafficking routes--are suffering a serious outbreak of
narco-related violence. A fight between rival
narcotrafficking groups has reportedly left 400 dead since
January, with the violence also spilling into Medellin.
President Uribe held a National Security Council meeting in
Monteria on April 7 to highlight the problem, and the
Colombian National Police (CNP) has set up a special unit to
pursue Uraba-based narcotafficker and former paramilitary
leader Daniel Rendon (Don Mario). Still, Colombian military
note that Uraba is not a military priority, and military and
police corruption is a serious problem. End Summary.

URABA AND CORDOBA: FERTILE GROUND FOR NARCOS


--------------------------





2. (U) The Uraba region of Antioquia Department and Cordoba
Department in northwest Colombia remains a center of
narcotrafficking. Paramilitary leader Carlos Castano set up
his first paramilitary/narcotrafficking group in Cordoba and
Uraba in the early 1990s. A CNP official told us Uraba's
coastline, rivers, dense vegetation, hills, and border with
Panama make it one of "the most secure routes for
narcotrafficking." Its proximity to Medellin and coca
cultivation in other parts of Antioquia--as well as the
presence of large numbers of demobilized paramilitaries and
mid-level para commanders--make it an integral part of a
regional narcotrafficking economy. San Pedro de Uraba Mayor
Hugo Caballero said Uraba's poor governance and lack of
economic development also contribute to criminal activity.
He characterized Uraba's infrastructure, public institutions
and class structure as somewhere "between the 21st century
and colonialism."



3. (U) The presence of substantial numbers of demobilized
paramilitaries--coupled with coca cultivation in the south
and access to the sea--also makes Cordoba an attractive area
for new groups. Tierralta Mayor Anibal Ortiz Naranjo, claims
the GOC has lost track of 600 of 825 former United
Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) members who demobilized
in his community. (Note: Tierralta was largely controlled by
paramilitaries from 1995 until the final para demobilization
in 2006.) He said the GOC's local reintegration programs
stopped paying monthly stipends to demobilized in 2007,
leading many to return to crime. President Uribe agrees the
GOC's reintegration programs in Uraba and Cordoba have been
ineffective.

NEW CRIMINAL GROUPS BATTLE FOR CONTROL


--------------------------





4. (U) Daniel Rendon (Don Mario) -- a former mid-level
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) mid-level
commander and brother of AUC Elmer Cardenas Block commander
Freddy Rendon (El Aleman) -- heads an Uraba-based
narcotrafficking band which is battling Medellin-based
criminal groups such as Los Paisas and Los Traquetos for
control of narcotrafficking activities in Uraba and Cordoba.
The conflict began with individual murders, but has expanded
into a full blown gang war. Media sources attribute over 400
murders in the region since January to the conflict, and
violent crime in Cordoba reportedly has risen 37% in 2008 in
the first quarter as compared to last year. Rendon, who
demobilized under the paramilitary peace process but later
returned to crime, is recruiting former demobilized paras
into his ranks. Some media claim he has also sought the
support of the FARC.



5. (C) CNP Carabineros (rural police) told us Rendon intends
to dominate the Uraba/Cordoba region as well as to extend his
operations into Medellin. His efforts are encountering
resistance from Medellin-based narcotraffickers such as
Carlos Mario Aguilar (Rogelio), a former lieutenant to AUC
commander and long time narcotrafficker Diego Murillo (Don
Berna). Medellin Secretary of Government Jesus Ramirez said
a recent increase in murders in Medellin is a direct
consequence of the violence in Uraba. Public Enterprises of
Medellin President Federico Restrepo told us Medellin needs
to take a more active role in promoting socio-economic
development in Uraba if it is to solve its own
narcotrafficking problems.

PRIMARILY A LAW ENFORCEMENT MATTER


--------------------------





6. (U) In response to the growing violence, President Uribe
held a National Security Council meeting--involving local
officials, the CNP, intelligence agencies, and the
military--in Monteria, Cordoba on April 7 to highlight the
need for greater action against Rendon. He voiced
frustration over the CNP's failed attempts to capture Rendon
over the past two months and ordered the immediate creation
of a special CNP 'Search Block' to pursue him. Reflecting
the GOC's stance that the criminal groups that have emerged
after the paramilitary demobilization are a criminal--not a
national security threat, the CNP's Carabineros have the lead
in the fight against Rendon's band as well as other new
narcotrafficking groups.



7. (C) The CNP has scored recent successes against Rendon's
group, including substantial arms seizures, but local
government officials complain that the GOC response to date
is insufficient. Some carabinero commanders agree that the
permanent police presence needs to be increased in the region
to cope with the growing threat. They also argue that the
military should play a greater role. Still, General
Saavedra, Director of Operations for the Colombian military,
told us Uraba continues to be a low priority for the
military. which is focused on the FARC's presence in Tolima,
Meta, Guaviare, and the southern part of the country. Local
authorities, civil society groups, and CNP officials
recognize that narotraffickers' penetration of local
government, the judiciary, and the security forces is a major
obstacle to combating these groups (ref A).


BROWNFIELD