BOGOTA, (Reuters) – Colombia’s armed forces will launch air raids on crime gangs involved in drug trafficking and illegal mining, the defence minister said yesterday, as the government steps up its offensive against what it considers the biggest threat to national security.
President Juan Manuel Santos authorized bombing raids on the gangs, which formed after a 2006 peace accord with right-wing paramilitary fighters failed to absorb many into society. There are about 3,000 members spread across three groups earning millions of dollars from illegal drugs and mining.
“This will allow the application of the entire force of the state, without exception, against organized armed groups, against powerful mafias, against those that launch hostile actions against institutions and the population, against those that have camps, long-range weapons, and uniforms,” Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said during a military event.
The government was previously prevented from taking such action against crime gangs because it was not proven that they used automatic weapons.