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Colombia has experienced significant political instability and violence over the past century due to a number of factors — the drug trade, a protracted insurgent conflict, internal corruption, and small-arms proliferation, the last being among the most serious of the country's problems. The authors identify the sources and routes used by arms traffickers to acquire, buy, sell, receive, transfer, and ship weapons. They also examine the various guerrilla groups, paramilitary organizations, criminal factions, and ordinary citizens who purchase and use these munitions. The authors then examine Colombia's political conflict through the lens of small-arms trafficking and conclude with policy implications for the U.S. government. The authors find that small-arms trafficking patterns — the manner by which arms and munitions are acquired and distributed — provide useful insights into the strategies used by insurgent groups engaged in conflict and a conflict's future evolution.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Violence in Colombia

  • Chapter Three

    Patterns of Small-Arms Trafficking into Colombia

  • Chapter Four

    Patterns of Small-Arms Trafficking Inside Colombia

  • Chapter Five

    The Wider Context

  • Chapter Six

    Policy Implications

  • Appendix

    Research Methodology

Book Review Excerpts

"The authors constructed a database of more than 500 articles and conducted field research. Methodologically, then, this is one of the soundest of the growing number of research reports on arms trafficking."

- Journal of Peace Research, November 2004

The research described in this report was sponsored by the Defense Intelligence Agency. The research was conducted in RAND’s National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center supported by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the unified commands, and the defense agencies.

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