Ever since I was a little girl, I would have periods of subject obessession where I would devote all my waking hours to investigating a particular topic. These obsessions would last from a few days to a few years. From snakes to weather patterns to World War II, I would print out literally hundreds of pages worth of information (back when I didn’t have to pay for printer cartridges) and then proceed to highlight facts that I would memorize and show off to the world.
My gang obsession began at age 12 when I was reading the Alex Rider spy novel series. Anthony Horowitz’s Snakehead (the 7thnovel in the series) especially peaked my interest and pushed me to investigate into the Asian triads depicted in the book. I didn’t think they were based on real groups until I read the author’s epilogue and found out that there were actually based on Hong Kong’s triads. Wikipedia led me down a dark rabbit hole from the triads to the likes of the Bloods & Crips, the Italian mob, the Russian mobs, and the Latin American drug cartels. They all fascinated me but the Latin American drug cartels, especially those in Colombia (my mother’s country) really began the obsession that has lasted to this day.
Watching Narcos I feel like more people are able to get an idea of the violence and corruption that infiltrated Colombia’s government and leftist groups through the means of cartel drug production. My parents felt the repercussions of the cartels’ violence and extortion through the bombings in their neighbourhoods and the kidnappings of their friends. I remember going to a lovely hotel in the mountains of Bogota and upon returning three years later, found an entirely different building– because the hotel decimated a week after we had left. I now think about the cocaine that circulates between college students and the rich, constantly amazed that these people around me are funding ending lives back home.
But back to my research, I found that the U.S. and Colombia worked together since the late 90s to militarily decimate the FARC and the Medellin/Cali/Bogota cartels. The two worked together on the War on Drugs campaign and have seemingly lessened the power/ability of said groups. Over the past 8 years I have learned that the coke production initially moved from the mountains of Colombia to those of Venezuela and Ecuador, but apparently have made a comback in the urban cities of Colombia. The narco traffickers had to get smarter and develop a more secret ways of communication & transportation. But after the demilitarization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia in 2006, there has been a reemergence of narco, leftist groups. Apparently, the Urabeños group (also known as the Gaitanistas) has gain substantial support in certain regions and is part of the 30 groups that make up the BACRIM (criminal bands) within the country. It will be interesting to see how these groups develop over the next ten years, as their members make up the surviving seasoned generations of the 80s and 90s, who learned from their mistakes.