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Thursday, 10 November 2011

15,000 Colombians active in illegal armed groups, criminal gangs

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Colombian authorities estimate that approximately 15,000 men are currently members of the illegal armed groups that are active throughout the country. In an interview with Caracol Radio, Army General Sergio Mantilla confirmed that these 15,000 were active in the major illegal armed groups of the FARC, ELN and BACRIM. According to the military officials, the FARC is made up of about 9,000 men while the ELN has about 2,000 active men. Mantilla said in regards to the new statistics, "The ELN is much diminished, for this reason there are not so many operations against them or so many leaders killed, like there are with the FARC." Criminal gangs make up the rest of the numbers, and Police Chief Oscar Naranjo confirms that criminal gangs throughout Colombia have about 4,000 members in their ranks. The police chief  stressed the point that it is very difficult to be sure of the numbers of people engaged in criminal activity throughout the country. Naranjo argued that "this is only an approximate number, enough of an estimate that it cannot be seen as a reality in criminology." Naranjo warned that it is dangerous to assess crime in the country according to these estimates as it can create false expectations regarding the results of security forces.

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