Strategic Changes in the Colombian Government’s Approach to Drug Trafficking

The Colombian government’s recent strategic overhaul in its pursuit of the country’s most wanted criminal may well turn the tide of what has been, for the last 2 years, an inconclusive search.

Colombia’s Chief Defence Minister, named Luis Carlos Villegas, made an announcement on June 22 that the pursuit of Dario Antonio Úsuga, “Otoniel,” the nation’s notorious and most wanted drug lord, would now be led by the newly appointed General Jorge Luis Vargas. His reputation precedes him as the director of the criminal investigations section of the national police and he’s probably the most renowned police chief in Colombia. He raised Colombia’s intelligence sector to world-class levels. Through developmental intelligence, Security Company Colombia can assist in providing consultancy to international security firms.

This landmark event indicates that a joint security force will be tasked under police control rather than military control. The task force will lead a new offensive to route out the Urabeños’ criminal regime, consisting of 3,200 members of the police, navy, army and the air force. It’s been indicated by US ambassador to Colombia, Kevin Whitaker, that the United States will step up their assistance in their plight against the international drug trafficking organisation and capture of Otoniel himself.

Appointing Jorge Luis Vargas was the biggest step in phase two of Operation Agamemnon, the nickname for the government’s quest in crushing the Urabeños. Phase 1 lasted well over 2 years and resulted in the arrest of more than 1,000 members of the group. Unfortunately, phase 1 ultimately failed in capturing Otoniel himself and disintegrating the criminal structure at its heart.

The HQ at Necoclí, the base of the operation, is stocked with Black Hawk helicopters presumably provided by the US alongside a brand new intelligence centre. Placing the police in charge of the new joint task force is one of the first signs of a strategic overhaul was required. It’s an initial indication of that the police will lead a post-conflict strategy that will guarantee internal security.

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