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Colombian guerrilla group selling cattle

Jan. 25, 2012 at 12:32 PM
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BOGOTA, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos says the country's largest guerrilla group is so crippled financially that members have resorted to selling cattle.

Santos said government efforts to dismantle the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, have dealt a blow to the group's drug trade and members of the militant group have been told to sell cattle to raise more cash.

Steven Dudley, the co-director of InSight, a Web site that monitors, analyzes and investigates organized crime in Latin America, said it may be just another way for the guerrillas to launder money.

"It's a classic underworld tactic. If you own 40,000 heads of cattle, you take the proceeds from selling some of your cows and do whatever you like with the profits. This wouldn't be the first time this has happened, so to pretend that this is somehow new or reflective only of a government crackdown on FARC is ridiculous," he told CNN.

Colombian security forces killed two prominent FARC leaders in recent months.

Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., said FARC has been under intense pressure for a decade but remains enormously wealthy because of revenues from the drug trade. "It still retains a capacity to commit acts of violence and harm people," she told CNN.

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