Colombian guerrilla group still a threat

Sept. 30, 2011 at 12:28 PM

BOGOTA, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Colombia's second-largest drug trafficking organization remains a national security threat despite its diminished numbers in the last decade, officials said.

An intelligence report shows The National Liberation Army, or ELN, has stayed strong by supporting itself through drug trafficking and extortion of oil and gold mining companies, El Espectador reported Friday.

The guerrilla group has become reliant on small urban cells operating throughout the country, infiltrating social organizations and recruiting university students, the report said.

The organization was decimated by security forces and paramilitary groups during the administration of former President Alvaro Uribe.

The ELN mainly focuses its drug operations on Colombia's Pacific Coast in the departments of Narino, Cauca and Choco.

The organization, founded in 1964, had an estimated 8,000 members at the height of its power in the late 1990s. There are about 1,200 active members today.

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