Brazil, Colombia warn FARC renegades could fuel crime

Manaus (Brazil) (AFP) - Brazil and Colombia are stepping up security along their border to stop drug gangs from recruiting renegade FARC rebels and their weapons as the guerrillas disarm, officials said Tuesday.

The countries have agreed to send army and police reinforcements to the border as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) begins implementing a historic peace deal with the government, said Colombian Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas.

As the peace process moves forward, ending a half-century conflict, there is concern that disaffected FARC fighters -- and their heavy weapons -- could fall into the hands of powerful drug gangs such as the First Capital Command (PCC) in Brazil or the Gulf Clan in Colombia.

Colombian officials have already warned that the Gulf Clan is recruiting FARC renegades.

Villegas and Brazilian Defense Minister Raul Jungmann met Tuesday in the city of Manaus, in Brazil's Amazon region, with top army, police and intelligence officials from both countries to discuss the threat.

They agreed to share information and coordinate operations "to dismantle these organizations and prevent them from teaming up to turn themselves into transnational threats," said Villegas.

"Peace in Colombia cannot be a cause for concern for the whole neighborhood."

Under a Colombian peace deal signed in November, the FARC has agreed to disarm and relaunch itself as a political party.

But the Colombian government estimates that five percent of the more than 6,000 FARC fighters will not adhere to the plan.

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