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Cablegate: Goc Fighting to Contain New Criminal Groups

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #8458/01 3451437
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 111437Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0457
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9647
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC 9111
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5700
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 0959
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6394
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4207
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BOGOTA 008458

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER MARR CO
SUBJECT: GOC FIGHTING TO CONTAIN NEW CRIMINAL GROUPS

REF: BOGOTA 5882


-------
Summary
-------

1. Combined GOC military and police efforts to combat new
criminal groups are making progress, with 1,710 captures and
568 kills of gang members from January through mid-November
2007. The share of demobilized ex-AUC among these new groups
appears to be falling, indicating that reinsertion programs
and targeted law enforcement are slowly succeeding. The
Organization of American States' Mission to Support the Peace
Process in Colombia's (MAPP/OAS) most recent report applauds
the GOC's efforts to combat the new groups, but underscores
their ability to regenerate through drug trafficking. End
Summary.

----------------------------
Increased Captures and Kills
----------------------------

2. Colombian National Police (CNP) officials provided us
with recent data showing their latest results in fighting
new criminal groups. From January 1 through November 14,
2007, combined military and police forces captured 1710 group
members and killed 568. These results already exceed the
numbers for 2006 (1014 captures and 143 kills) and reflect
the greater GOC effort to prevent an AUC-like resurgence of
criminal groups. Figures for October alone showed 216
captures and 58 kills. A contributor to October's spike was
the mass demobilization of a renegade bloc (Cacique Papinta)
of 51 paramilitaries, a holdout from the AUC era. Police
estimate there are 23 emerging criminal groups with a
combined membership of 2300 persons, down from 3000 earlier
in 2007. CNP officials say other groups' higher
estimates--which range from 3000 to 4500--do not reflect the
public forces' results. The CNP verifies numbers reported by
other services and excludes undocumented Army takedowns.

-------------------------------
Fewer Demobilized Back To Crime
-------------------------------

3. Statistics show a drop in the number of demobilized
paramilitaries among captured or killed members of new
criminal groups. At midyear, police estimated that 16 to 18
percent of new groups' members were demobilized AUC, but the
average for 2007 has now fallen under 12 percent. Police
monitor recidivism using detailed bio-data bases compiled
during the AUC demobilization process, and those data bases
have facilitated round-ups of 'recycled' criminals. Falling
numbers of ex-AUC within new groups indicate that both
reinsertion programs and targeted law enforcement are slowly
succeeding in deterring former paras from joining new groups.

----------------------------
October Results - Nationwide
----------------------------

4. October's progress against new groups was widespread,
with the GOC attacking groups throughout the country.
Significant blows were struck against the highest profile
groups --Organizacion Nueva Generacion and Rastrojos in
Narino and the Aguilas Negras in Norte de Santander. CNP
action against the Narino groups follows charges by human
rights groups of GOC inaction, or in some case security
force collusion, with ONG and highlights GOC resolve to deal
with this problem. Through regional councils coordinating
military, police, and civilian agencies, significant results
have also been achieved against new groups in the north
(Cesar, Magdalena), south (Putumayo), east (Meta/Vichada),
and west (Choco). CNP officials said there continues to be
no evidence of a national command and control structure among
the new groups, noting that many local criminal bands claim
the "Aguilas" name to enhance their prestige.

--------------------------------------------- -
OAS: Groups Are Small, Mobile, and Low-Profile
--------------------------------------------- -

5. The MAPP/OAS' Tenth Report on the AUC demobilization
applauds GOC's efforts to combat the new groups, but notes
the
groups' ability to regenerate using profits from the drug
trade. "The Mission has noted the government's efforts to
gain ground.... However, despite stepping up its operations
and strikes against the rearmed remnants of self defense
forces, the capacity for reinvention and recruitment of these
units, funded with resources from drug trafficking, makes it
possible for them to continue...."

6. CNP and MAPP/OAS analysts agree the new groups are
focused solely on drug profits, without political pretensions
or aspirations for influence. They are characterized by high
levels of criminal activity (such as smuggling or extortion)
but relatively low levels of violence (mostly targeted
assassinations of competitors). The groups seek to avoid
police attention, and are smaller and more mobile than the
previous AUC blocks, complicating police and military efforts
to target them. Still, the OAS has detected movement by some
bands from Uraba to Magdalena, or from Antioquia to Meta,
suggesting some are trying to build more extensive networks.

Brownfield

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