Posted on November 4, 2021

Colombia’s Most Powerful Cartel Is Making Millions ‘Helping’ Desperate Migrants

Luis Chaparro, Insider, November 1, 2021

The biggest criminal organization in Colombia, Clan del Golfo, also called Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC), is making millions of dollars off of desperate migrants trying to make their way to the US.

Although AGC’s main source of revenue is cocaine trafficking, it recently gained control of the migrant routes between Colombia’s borders with Ecuador in the south and Panama in the north, according to a report from Indepaz, a Colombian nongovernmental organization that promotes peace and justice.

As thousands of migrants from the region and from as far away as Africa and the Middle East pass through Colombia in their attempts to reach the US, the AGC have found another criminal gold mine.

AGC is considered by Colombian authorities as a “Class A Organized Armed Group,” and US authorities claim it is the main Colombian ally of Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa Cartel, partnering with it to profit from drug-trafficking and human-smuggling rings worth millions of dollars.


Colombian and Panamanian authorities reopened their borders this year after more than a year closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. They agreed to let 650 migrants go from Colombia to Panama each day in an effort to relieve the tumultuous bottleneck in Necoclí.

In order to help migrants get to Panama, Colombian authorities authorized a private marine-transportation company to sell 650 tickets to Haitians only, allowing them to cross the Urabá Gulf to Acandí, from where they could head to Panama.

But Insider witnessed ferries stop in the middle of the sea to knowingly hand the migrants to several small fishing boats owned and operated by AGC smugglers.

Once the migrants reached the other side, hundreds of men, all either members of or hired by AGC, approached the migrants to take them on a two-hour bike ride to the base camp in Las Tecas, at a cost of about $50 to $80 each.

“There is no one going to the US and through Colombia that we don’t know of. We have full control of the migrants here,” said Breiner, an AGC operative in Las Tecas, an enclosed base camp where thousands of migrants wait their turn to enter the deadly jungle of the Darien Gap.


“In early September we would have around 3,000 migrants arriving at this camp, and every single one of them had to pay, with no option” not to, he said.