Colombia refugees in Ecuador still can’t flee gangs

September 8, 2010 06:38

Thousands of Colombian peasants have crossed into this Ecuadorean jungle for years to escape what the U.S. State Department describes as a low-intensity guerrilla war involving mostly political combatants.

By Kelly HearnThe Washington Times


‘But these days, Colombian refugees are contending with a new and equally deadly breed of armed conflict — among ruthless gangs vying for control of the region’s lucrative cocaine and arms trade.’

‘Officials estimate that 3,000 people belong to 20 to 30 “franchised” trafficking groups that were founded in Colombia but now are operating in Ecuador with names such as New Generation, Blue Eagles and the Machos.

“These groups are known as ‘Bacrim,’ which is short for ‘criminal gangs,'” said Jay Bergman, the Andean regional director for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “Banda criminal” is Spanish for “criminal gang.”‘

‘Mr. Bergman said the gangs also count among their ranks former leftist guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, commonly known as the FARC; the lesser-known leftist guerrilla group known as the National Liberation Army, or ELN; and members from the dismantled North Valle drug cartel.’


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