Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel has allegedly bought up a number of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia’s drug trafficking “franchises,” hinting that the Mexican group is moving farther into South America and that the Colombian guerrillas are serious about their demobilization process, Colombian media reported.
An anonymous official told the Colombian daily El Tiempo that a number of mid-level FARC commanders have sold off their shares in the drug trade in anticipation of the continuing peace negotiations between the guerrilla group and the Colombian government, which is taking place in Havana. Under the agreement, Sinaloa would own and operate illegal cocaine production facilities in South America.
The sale of the so-called drug trafficking franchises marks a move by the Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín “ El Chapo” Guzmán into the production of cocaine. Mexico’s cartels had previously relied on processed cocaine to be transported to the country from various points in South and Central America.
Crackdowns by Colombian authorities have forced the Mexican drug trafficking organization to take a more hands-on approach on the trade in the Andean nation. The Sinaloa Cartel is allegedly operating processing labs near the border with Ecuador, in the departments of Antioquia, Córdoba and in Norte de Santander, near the country’s border with Venezuela.
The Colombian government and the FARC are looking for points of agreement upon which to build a peace accord. In a joint statement, they said talks will begin with agrarian reform, the first item on the agenda.
Formed in the 1960s, the FARC is believed to have about 9,000 members and is the oldest active guerrilla army in the Western Hemisphere.