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  • President Santos led the National Security Council during an announcement.

    President Santos led the National Security Council during an announcement. | Photo: Presidencia de Colombia

Published 20 October 2017

In a televised speech, the Colombian president acknowledged that the "government was absent in Tumaco for many years," and pledged intervention.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced a "comprehensive intervention" in the municipality of Tumaco, specifically in the southwestern sector of Narino, which includes the creation of a joint task force made up of members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police.

Hundreds of Colombian Families Forced Out by Violence in Tumaco

"We are going to create a joint task force under the control of the Army with additional support from the Navy, Air Force and Police," Santos said in a televised address from the House of Narino (headquarters of the Executive).

He said that the "government was absent in Tumaco for many years" and now, with the Peace Agreement sealed, "problems are emerging that were submerged under the armed conflict."

In Narino there have been several violent incidents in recent weeks, including the killing of social leaders such as Jose Jair Cortes, the killing of seven coca farmers and a massacre of six people, allegedly involving a fight between criminal groups that are warring for drug trafficking territory.

With 203,000 inhabitants, Tumaco is one of the most coveted routes to export drugs to the United States, and is the epicenter of a war between 12 criminal gangs fighting for territory.

Scores of Colombian Police Investigated for Tumaco Massacre

Santos said that the forces deploying to Tumaco will be comprised of 4,000 members of the Armed Forces and 2,500 police officers whose mission is "to take control of the whole territory, with emphasis on the rivers, which have become corridors for drug trafficking."

The head of state led a meeting of the National Council of Security Guarantees to address the situation in the area, where there are continual murders of social leaders and human rights defenders.

Santos is scheduled to travel, alongside Vice President Oscar Naranjo, to the municipality of Tumaco to "coordinate new operations."

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