Photo: Buenaventura, Colombia
President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday ordered a “special intervention” by Colombian security forces in the country’s main Pacific port, Buenaventura, to break up criminal gangs that have been terrorizing the city.
“We are in the process of making an in-depth intervention in Buenaventura with regard to public order,” said the president.
Buenaventura, a city of around 400,000 residents, is enduring a bloody war among rival gangs for control of turf and drug trafficking.
Police this week found at least four houses that were apparently used by two paramilitary drug gangs, Los Urabeños and La Empresa, to dismember their victims, whose remains they afterwards threw into the sea.
The turf war broke out more than a year ago when Los Urabeños moved into the city in a bloody invasion, attempting to dislodge La Empresa, which up until that time had been in control.
So far this year, authorities have registered about 50 murders in Buenaventura, with several of the victims being dismembered.
The port of Buenaventura has an important strategic value given its location and situation, and Santos has expressed on several occasions his desire to transform it into the capital of the Pacific Alliance, an economic bloc comprised of Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru.
During the first six months of last year, 28.5 percent of the cargo that entered the country passed through the port of Buenaventura, with that volume exceeded only by the Caribbean port of Cartagena, which accounted for 35.1 percent.