Counternarcotics Brigade (Brigada Contra el Narcotrafico)
The Brigade Against Drug Trafficking and the Brigade Against Illegal Mining, elite units of the National Army, work against the scourges that seek to affect natural resources and the environment. On December 8, 2000, as a result of Plan Colombia, the Colombian military command activated the Counternarcotics Brigade. Before the 2000 resolution that officially created the brigade, there was the "Counternarcotics Battalion N1" headquartered in Tolemaida (Cundinamarca). This battalion receieved training from the American 7th Special Forces Group.
The Counternarcotics Brigade had three battalions assigned and headquartered at Joint Task Force South at Tres Esquinas. These battalions, in conjunction with the Colombian National Police (CNP) and other Army units, focus on securing the Putumayo region near the Ecuadoran and Peruvian borders so that aerial spraying operations can eradicate illegal crops.
Every December 7 since the year 2000, Colombian soldiers from the National Army’s Special Anti-drug Brigade (BRCNA) have gathered in Larandia, Florencia for an end-of-year ceremony to celebrate the unit’s anniversary and recognize distinguished service. According to a Colombian military report, since the unit’s activationm by the year 2016 more than 890 thousand hectares of coca cultivation have been destroyed, 107 tons of finished or in-process cocaine had been seized and destroyed, and 854 narco-terrorists of different illegal groups have been killed in combat or placed in the hands of authorities.
For more than 60 years, U.S. Special Operations Forces, primarily in the form of Special Forces have played a critical role in the development of their Colombian partners. Although USSOF worked with the unit during exchange training since its creation in December 2000, it was not until 2014 when the Green Berets began to train the BRCNA to meet operational needs, said a U.S. Special Forces team leader currently working with the Colombian special unit. Since then, four Operational Detachment Alpha teams have made training recommendations to improve the BRCNA’s effectiveness based on planning observations and while monitoring the unit’s operations from miles away.
Since his arrival in government, President Iván Duque established as one of his priorities the frontal fight against drug trafficking, all the links in the criminal chain that are a source of financing for illegal organizations that bring violence and destruction to the territories. It is, as the president has explained, a constitutional and moral obligation, since ending coca is reducing the rates of violence in the communities, attracting social and economic investment that allows the transformation of the territories.
The challenge is great, but Colombia has a Military Forces and Police with sufficient capacities to assume it. The government of President Iván Duque found a country with 171,000 hectares of coca, a record number in illicit crops, which become one of the main engines of violence. The data confirm this: in the municipalities that according to the United Nations are production enclaves due to their high concentration of coca crops, the homicide rate is, on average, almost double that of the national one.
Taking into account all these complexities, the national government issued in 2019 the Defense and Security Policy for Legality, Entrepreneurship and Equity, a document that constitutes the roadmap of the Public Force to face threats, both internal, such as those that cross borders and become transnational crimes, such as the global problem of illicit drugs.
In November 2020 the Military Forces, in compliance with the Heroes de la Libertad Bicentennial Campaign Plan and the CTI of the Attorney General's Office, succeeded in locating and destroying a laboratory for processing cocaine hydrochloride in the Colorado village of the municipality of Tumaco, Nariño. The development of operations in the area against the residual Organized Armed Group, GAO-r, Oliver Sinisterra allowed the dismantling of this complex that contained 930 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride, 360 gallons of acetone, 40 gallons of ACPM, material and machinery used for the alkaloid processing. This laboratory had a monthly production capacity of three tons of the narcotic substance, with this important result it is possible to weaken the finances of drug trafficking by about 4,915 million pesos.
In 2020, the interdiction results presented a favorable outlook, with a 5 percent increase in seized drugs. There are 300 tons of cocaine that the Public Force has seized between January 1 and August 27, 2020, so it was hoped that by the end of the year the seizure will be greater than in 2019.
In compliance with the Heroes de la Libertad Bicentennial Plan, in February 2021 the Hercules Joint Stabilization and Consolidation Task Force , in a joint military operation with the National Navy, the Brigade Against Drug Trafficking, in an inter-institutional manner with the Attorney General's Office, achieved the Destruction of a gigantic complex for the production of cocaine, where more than a ton of narcotics was found in the rural area of Tumaco, Nariño.
Guided by naval intelligence information, units of the 40th Marine Infantry Battalion, attached to the Hercules Joint Stabilization and Consolidation Task Force, troops from the 4th Anti-Drug Trafficking Battalion of the National Army and members of the Technical Investigation Corps , CTI of the Prosecutor's Office, were deployed to an area located in the El Congal village, where the complex made up of seven structures dedicated to the production of cocaine hydrochloride was located.
At the site, 1,058 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride were found, ready to be packed and illegally trafficked to Central American countries, and 420 kilograms of coca base paste. Likewise, 400 kilograms of solid supplies, 3,024 gallons of liquid supplies, 01 Martian, 08 microwave ovens, a compressor, a drying system with bulbs, a hydraulic press, a power generator, 2,000 latex packages, a gramera were found. , two filtration equipment, 636 labels, among other elements used for the production of narcotic drugs. Additionally, two shotguns of different calibers were located in the complex.
According to intelligence information, this complex had the capacity to produce two tons of narcotics on a monthly basis. With its dismantling, it is estimated that more than 6,910 million pesos will be affected in the finances of the residual Organized Armed Group Los Contadores, money that includes the cost of the illegal complex and the commercialization of the drug in Central American countries and the United States.
Command Against Drug Trafficking and Transnational Threats Comando Contra el Narcotráfico y Amenazas Transnacionales, CONAT
In Colombia, transnational threats include, among others, drug trafficking, the illicit exploitation of mining deposits, extortion, kidnapping, arms, ammunition and explosives trafficking, irregular migration and migrant smuggling, as well as the presence of Organized Armed Groups (GAO), Organized Crime Groups (GDO) and Transnational Organized Crime (DOT).
However, the main threat to national security and defense is the phenomenon of drug trafficking and all its links, which have a direct impact on the increase in force within armed groups organized outside the law, enhance their criminal capacity, as well, such as transnational crimes, which also allow their financing with the activities of drug trafficking and the illicit extraction of mining deposits.
Therefore, on February 26, 2021, as part of the Government's strategy to strengthen offensive action against drug trafficking and other transnational threats, the Command Against Drug Trafficking and Transnational Threats, CONAT , Resolution 0095 of 2021, was created. organic of the Air Assault Aviation Division. This Command will be made up of elite units with distinctive capabilities to develop special military operations throughout the national territory.
The elite units that make up the new Command are the Deployment Force against Transnational Threats, which will be in charge of planning and conducting military operations with special units against transnational threats throughout the national territory; three brigades against drug trafficking, in charge of planning and conducting Unified Land Operations (OTU), with an emphasis on drug trafficking, through comprehensive eradication, in order to affect the productive chain and contribute to the protection of the State and its resources, and the Brigade against the Illicit Exploitation of Mining Reservoirs, in charge of contributing to the protection and defense of the environment and renewable natural resources, through the planning and conducting of military operations in assistance to State entities,
In this way, about 7,000 men will concentrate their special capacities against drug trafficking and transnational threats, and will be the ones who constitute the Command against Drug Trafficking and Transnational Threats, a very important capacity to face the illicit drug business, in order to to effectively fulfill the task of comprehensive eradication of illicit crops and transnational threats.
Drug trafficking will be fought with the deployment of 7,000 men from the Colombian National Army command. The President of the Republic, Iván Duque Márquez, affirmed during the activation of Conat 26 February 2021 that drug trafficking is one of the causes of the murder of social leaders and people who seek to reach legality. For that reason, the Public Force "will go without contemplation to destroy drug trafficking structures." Diego Molano, Minister of Defense, endorsed Duque's statement by guaranteeing that Conat will prioritize its actions in areas with a high concentration of crime, such as Catatumbo, Cauca and Putumayo. The official assured that drug trafficking will be fought "by air, land and sea" and will not have a chance of truce with the new deployment. Regarding transnational threats, in Colombia they are classified as the illicit exploitation of mining deposits, extortion, kidnapping, arms trafficking and, of course, drug trafficking.
Conat will try, in the words of the National Government, to combat transnational crimes through the Air Assault Aviation Division, which in turn is made up of elite units with the capacity to carry out special military operations throughout the country.
The command will consist of the anti-drug trafficking brigade that will be in charge of planning and executing the Unified Land Operations (OTU); the second is the Brigade Against the Illicit Exploitation of Mining Reservoirs, which seeks to protect the environment and the country's resources; the last will be the Deployment Force Against Transnational Threats and will combat extortion, kidnapping, arms and ammunition trafficking, as well as migrant smuggling.
General Juan Carlos Correa will be the brigadier in charge of this new command thanks to his 32 years of military career with multiple medals and decorations from the Government. This strengthening of the military program against the fight against drug trafficking was possible through resolution 0095 of 2021.
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