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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

March 22, 2006
DEA Public Affairs

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DEA badgeFARC Fact Sheet

  • The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia), was officially formed in 1964 as the military wing of the Colombian Community Party. FARC aims to replace the Colombian government with a leftist, anti-United States regime.

  • In the past two decades, the FARC has come to control large areas of Colombia’s primary coca cultivation and cocaine processing regions.

  • The FARC is considered the largest, best-trained and equipped, and most effective insurgent group in Colombia. They are by far the most visibly violent of Colombia’s terrorist organizations, using bombs, landmines, extortion, as well as guerilla and conventional military action against enemies, to inspire fear and submission. They have been designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.

    Organization of the FARC

  • The FARC is governed by the Secretariat, led by Manuel Marulanda and six others, including senior military commander Jorge Briceño-Suarez.

  • The FARC is organized into seven regional Blocks that oversee a total of approximately 66 Fronts of varying size that operate throughout Colombia.

  • The FARC also has urban terrorist cells that operate in Colombia’s major cities and various representatives throughout the world.

  • The FARC includes approximately 12,000-16,000 armed combatants and an unknown number of supporters, mostly in rural areas.

  • Since 1980, the FARC has kidnapped over 100 individuals and murdered 13 U.S. citizens, including three U.S. missionaries who were executed in 1999.

  • To intimidate communities and those who do not support them, the FARC has overrun and massacred towns and enlisted underaged recruits by force. Businesses are required to make monthly payments to protect themselves from future attacks and kidnappings.

    FARC’s Control of the Drug Trade
  • The FARC employs a wide variety of tactics to meet its goals and has greatly emphasized its guerrilla military capability. It engages in traditional terrorism and criminal activities, financing itself through kidnapping, ransoms, extortion, and drug trafficking, which includes taxation, cultivation, protection of labs and traffickers, controlling some local cocaine base markets and HCl labs, transportation, and coordinating the sale of cocaine.

  • In general, most FARC units involved in the drug trade have remained in the lower levels, such as production and internal Colombian transportation rather than moving up to command and control or international wholesale distribution activities. The FARC, however, exerts a great deal of control over the production and distribution of cocaine in the southeastern half of Colombia.

  • FARC uses these drug proceeds to purchase weapons and military equipment. The weapons are then distributed throughout the FARC to be used in the war against the Colombian government and the illegal paramilitary groups.

    DEA’s Work Fighting the FARC

  • DEA is actively building cases against FARC units and members engaged in drug trafficking.
    Since 2002, DEA investigations have led to the indictments of 13 FARC members and associates on drug trafficking charges.
  • In FY 2005, two high-ranking FARC officers were extradited to the United States. One was the chief financial officer for one of their most important drug trafficking fronts, and the other was a former FARC spokesman and financial coordinator.

    March 2006

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