Drug related violence has killed about 60 people (criminals, security forces and civilians) so far this month. For the first eight months of the year, rebel and drug related violence has killed 296 security personnel (121 policemen and 175 soldiers), as well as even more rebels and civilians. Most of the recent violence is along the Ecuadoran border, which is a key cocaine smuggling route that the government has threatened. There has always been a lot of smuggling along this border, and of late, police have been capturing a lot of Ecuadoran smugglers bringing explosives into Colombia for the bombs FARC is building to attack the security forces and terrorize the urban populations.
Meanwhile, disarming over 20,000 rebels (mainly FARC, AUC and ELN) and drug gang members in the last eight years has led to many of these guys slipping back into the gangster life. This has increased the crime rate in major cities, and become a growing problem.
For the last five years, a special tax has bought the military over $4 billion worth of new equipment, or upgrades of existing stuff. This has made a big difference out in the bush, where more armored vehicles, helicopters, radios and night vision gear has given the troops a growing edge against their rebel and drug gang opponents.
Things are changing along the Venezuelan border as police on the Venezuelan side increase their pressure on the drug smugglers, and any leftist rebels that will not behave. The civilians on the Venezuelan side are in an uproar about the violence, and the government has to act, or face a popular uprising.
September 10, 2010: On the Ecuador border, FARC rebels fired improvised rockets at a police barracks, killing eight of the 80 policemen there. Elsewhere along the border, FARC coming from Ecuador killed eight policemen in a failed attempt to capture the town of San Miguel.
September 9, 2010: In the south, a bomb went off outside a building used by the national intelligence agency (DAS), wounding twelve people.
September 8, 2010: In the south, FARC ambushed a patrol and killed six policemen.
September 4, 2010: On the Venezuelan border, troops found and raided an ELN camp, killing eleven of the leftist rebels, wounding several others, and capturing weapons, equipment and documents.
September 1, 2010: In the south, FARC ambushed a five truck convoy and killed 14 policemen.