In writing this article I consulted senior DEA Special Agents who have worked extensively with the Jungla commandos in Colombia. Their identities have been withheld by request.
This post originally appeared at Small Wars Journal, here.
The Jungla Commandos, or Compañía Jungla Antinarcóticos (Counter-narcotics Jungle Company; JUNGLA), as they are properly known, are Colombia’s premier national counter-narcotics (CN) interdiction unit. Falling under the Dirección de Antinarcóticos (Directorate of Counter-narcotics; DIRAN) of the Policía Nacional de Colombia (National Police of Colombia; PNC), the Junglas were formed from 120 men in 1989, with the support of both the US and UK. The first course, in 1989, was conducted with training from the British Special Air Service (SAS), although the US Army’s 7th Special Forces Group (7th SFG(A)) provided some behind-the-scenes support and translators. The SAS continued to take the lead until 1991, when US Special Forces took over primary responsibility. In 1998, training responsibility was handed off to the JUNGLA cadre, with ongoing US support.
In recent years, training has been supported primarily by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and US Army Special Forces. DEA agents embed with the Junglas during High-Value Target (HVT) capture and interdiction missions, as well as providing specialised tactical and firearms training, and the US Army provides specialised land warfare training. Funding comes primarily from the US State Department’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the Narcotic Affairs Section (NAS) at the US Embassy in Bogotá. The US Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and other US government entities have also been involved in training and providing support for the Junglas. According to sources I spoke with, the Junglas have very little crossover with the Colombian military; however they have conducted some joint operations with the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (Colombian Air Force; FAC). It is also believed that British MI6 agents (and possibly SAS and SBS personnel) continue to support interdiction efforts in Colombia.