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Colombia’s “New” Militias Have 4,000 Fighters, Police Say

Aug 19--Colombia’s new militias have at least 4,000 fighters, a large number of them members of the defunct AUC militia organization, the Bogota daily El Tiempo reported Tuesday, citing an estimate by the National Police.

Authorities told the newspaper that the Los Rastrojos militia and the Los Paisas, Nueva Generacion, Renacer and Magdalena Medio groups “have nearly 4,000 men” and are responsible for a good deal of the criminal activity in the country.

“According to police, the offensive of the past few months, with more than 200 operations, weakened at least three organizations; only eight identified groups remain,” El Tiempo said.

The independent Fundacion Nuevo Arco Iris, however, has information on 82 criminal organizations in its files that have a presence in 273 cities and could have 10,000 armed men.

Only about 42 percent of the criminal activities of these gangs are related to drug trafficking, Fundacion Nuevo Arco Iris said.

“The other 58 percent has to do with extortion, stealing land and the most serious, common crime in the streets of the big cities,” the foundation said.
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