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Colombian national police lined up in Barranquilla. Oficiales de la policía nacional de Colombia en formación en Barranquilla.

Decreased Cocaine Flows Lead to Increased Extortion in Northern Colombia

Reduced Cocaine Flows Lead to Greater Extortion in Northern Colombia

A drop in drug trafficking in northern Colombia has led to a rise in extortion as ever more fragmented criminal groups find new resources of funding.

Stories of extortion in the division of Atlántico, Colombia, rose from 199 in 2019 to 1,335 in 2023 — a 570% maximize — in accordance to the countrywide police databases (Sistema de Información Estadístico, Delincuencial, Contravencional y Operativo &#8211 SIEDCO). The cases are concentrated in the metropolitan area of its cash, Barranquilla. The national police has despatched hundreds of officers to aid Barranquilla’s forces confront this problem.

SEE ALSO: Gang Killings of Bus Motorists Paralyzes Colombia’s Fourth Metropolis

The rise in extortion &#8220primarily impacts merchants, shopkeepers and transport staff,&#8221 stated a report by the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation. In accordance to the investigation, the prison teams involved consist of the Gaitanistas &#8211 also known as the Gulf Clan, one of Colombia&#8217s dominant drug trafficking groups &#8211 as nicely as more compact corporations such as the Costeños, the Pepes, and the Rastrojos Costeños. 

Atlántico was the section with the optimum increase in extortion grievances in the country above the last 4 yrs. Meanwhile, in other departments in northern Colombia, these kinds of as Bolivar, La Guajira, and Magdalena, as very well as departments in other places with a sizeable legal presence, these as Norte de Santander and Valle del Cauca, extortion complaints remained fairly steady.

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The maximize in extortion in Atlántico is largely the result of two things: a reduction in cocaine trafficking throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the fragmentation of prison groups.

When cocaine trafficking reduced all through the pandemic, lesser nearby criminal groups that acted as logistical operators for the Gulf Clan misplaced a major part of their revenues. 

&#8220They essential to substitute individuals national revenues with regional revenues,&#8221 Luis Fernando Trejos, a professor in the Political Science and Global Relations department at the College of the North, told Insight Criminal offense. 

&#8220When the quarantines were calm &#8230 nearby criminal corporations began to contend for the economies that were being left standing,&#8221 he extra. 

SEE ALSO: Colombia Struggles to Deal with Jail-Based Extortion

In the meantime, these regional prison groups also started to fragment.

&#8220From the Costeños, come the Rastrojos Costeños, and then the Pepes. It&#8217s no longer just one organization extorting, now other folks are competing for command of that cash flow,&#8221 stated Trejos. 

In contrast to large-scale drug trafficking, which calls for an comprehensive community, smallercriminal groups can very easily have out extortion schemes, generally utilizing engineering to achieve and rob their victims. 

&#8220You don&#8217t require massive quantities and territorial manage. Just a little team — even two individuals on a bike — who can stress [victims] for the extortion payment, shoot at a company, or merely go away a take note,&#8221 explained Trejos.

Showcased picture: Nationwide law enforcement reinforcements in formation in Barranquilla. Credit rating: La Vibrante

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