A paramilitary group known as the "Gulf Clan" has become Colombia’s largest and most powerful criminal organization, according to a report by the country’s intelligence services that teleSUR has reviewed.
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According to the document, they have control over across all Colombian territory and fund their activities with drug trafficking, illegal mining and extortion, thanks to money-laundering in sectors like real estate business and international franchises.
The organization emerged in 2007, as a result of the 2005 demobilization of paramilitary groups then known as the United Self-Defenses Forces of Colombia.
Colombian authorities have recorded their presence in at least 17 departments of the country. According to the report, the clan has a particularly dense concentration in Colombia’s northern region, especially in the Pacific departments of Antioquia, Chocó and Córdoba, meaning that the clan’s activities affect especially Afro-Colombian populations who as a result of that are routinely displaced.
Last year, a joint report published by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, IDMC, and Norwegian Refugee Council, NRC, found that Colombia has the largest internally displaced population in the world.
The organization has been responsible for terrorist attacks against the public, including threats and murders against social leaders.
The government believes it is planning attacks on police in the form of shooting ambushes and the use of explosive devices in what has been said to be retaliation for the killing of Arístides Manuel Mesa Páez, one of the main leaders of the Gulf Clan organization.
In January, the Gaitanist Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AGC, the armed forces branch of the Gulf Clan, threw a grenade into an Antioquia dance club, injuring 30 people.
While the Colombian government continues to deny the existence of paramilitaries, the brutal groups continue to cause internal disturbances and kill human rights defenders. Colombia’s landmark peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia that was widely hailed as an end to the longest-running civil war has done little to stop paramilitary violence.