Gustavo Petro
Gustavo Petro is trying to negotiate an end of hostilities with dozens of criminal organizations. Photo by: AFP/Daniel Munoz

A ceasefire between the Gulf Clan, Colombia's top drug trafficking gang, and government forces have been suspended, according to President Gustavo Petro.

He charged it with "sowing fear and anxiety" and gave the security forces orders to resume armed operations against the criminal gang.

The president's "total peace" strategy for Colombia included the ceasefire, which was agreed upon in December.

Its termination is a serious setback for Petro's efforts to put a stop to hostilities.

His approach differs significantly from that of Iván Duque, who took office before him and attempted to bring about peace by stepping up military operations against Colombia's illegal armed organizations.

Instead, Petro is attempting to reach a peace agreement with numerous crime organizations.

The government declared on Dec. 31, 2022, that it had achieved bilateral cease-fire agreements with the Gulf Clan, the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), among other parties.

President Petro, however, has recently charged the Gulf Clan with violating the ceasefire, blaming it for an assault on an aqueduct and claiming it sparked unrest among artisanal gold miners.

He also charged Gulf Clan members with shooting at police officers in a tweet.

"From this moment, there is no ceasefire with the Gulf Clan. The security forces need to act immediately against the structures of this mafia organization," he wrote, reports BBC.

More officers will be mobilized and dispatched to the regions where the Gulf Clan is most active, according to Henry Sanabria, the leader of Colombia's police force.

The cartel is present in many of Colombia's provinces and has developed relationships with other criminal organizations abroad. Together, they work to smuggle narcotics out of Colombia and into countries as far away as Russia and the U.S.

Additionally, it engages in illicit gold mining and human smuggling.

Gulf Clan's organizational structure was weakened by the arrest of its leader, Dairo Antonio Úsuga, also known as Otoniel, in 2021, but individual members of the organization have persisted.

According to President Petro, as long as the Gulf Clan continues to commit crimes, there is "obviously no possibility of negotiation."

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