Speaking in the Caribbean city of Santa Marta, President Juan Manuel Santos said that other BACRIM (from the Spanish “bandas criminales”), such as the Rastrojos, were getting progressively weaker thanks to the actions of the government, according to a press release from the presidency. He highlighted the security forces’ work to capture or kill the leaders of these groups.
Of the 33 splinter groups that emerged following the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), some six now remain, according to think tank Nuevo Arco Iris. However, this may be less a product of the government’s security policies than of the consolidation of the paramilitary successors into a smaller number of stronger groups.
The Urabeños have led the way in this consolidation, with their aggressive moves to absorb or neutralize rivals and take over their territory. The group has reportedly bought the support of organizations like the Machos and Renacer in west Colombia, taking on the rival Rastrojos in their home turf. Simultaneously, it has launched a bid to take Medellin from the long-established Oficina de Envigado.
The Urabeños are some of the principal suppliers of cocaine to Mexican cartels, among them the brutal Zetas.