Colombia’s Remote Telembí Triangle Sees Gangs Shake Down Illegal Miners

Colombia’s southern department of Nariño is home to an extortion scheme, where two of the country’s largest criminal organizations, the ELN and the Urabeños, shake down illegal miners.

ELN Profile

ELN

The National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN) is one of the two main guerrilla armies with left-wing political ideologies operating in Colombia. Initially a Marxist-Leninist nationalist movement, it now appears more focused on kidnapping, extortion and attacks on economic infrastructure. And while it eschewed drug trafficking for decades, it has recently been linked to the narcotics trade and has sought alliances with large drug trafficking organizations. Militarily, it has been greatly debilitated and has dropped from an estimated 5,000 soldiers in the early 1990s to a force believed to number around 2,500 fighters.