Police Academy— Colombia


Decades of warfare against drug cartels and armed guerillas have provided Colombia with a valuable asset. Countries across Latin America are sending their troops and police to learn the techniques of its elite Jungla unit.

Jungla training, Mexico, counter-narcotics

Brazilian policeman Noberto Aviles regrets not getting fitter before coming to Colombia. “I didn’t prepare myself physically enough,” Aviles pants, as he grabs a breather in the canteen at Colombia’s main police training centre, a three-hour drive south of Bogotá. So far this morning Aviles has gone on a brisk 5km run, been put through several fitness drills and has been forced to do countless push-ups – all before breakfast. “It’s more difficult than I’d imagined,” he says.

Aviles is one of 107 young police officers and soldiers from 12 Latin…

Planning ahead

Since 2000, the US has spent $7bn (€4.8bn) on military hardware, training Colombia’s security forces to fight rebel groups and on anti-narcotics operations in the country. This makes Colombia, a key ally of Washington in the region, one of the largest recipients of US aid in the world.

The aid package, known as Plan Colombia, has given the country dozens of helicopters, arms and intelligence-gathering equipment to guerrillas and drug traffickers. Introduced during Clinton’s presidency, it has pumped billions of dollars into reducing cocaine production by aerial spraying swathes of Colombia’s coca fields.

Critics say that, while coca production in Colombia has decreased, the problem has been pushed across its borders into Peru and Bolivia. The Obama government has gradually reduced the amount of military aid Colombia receives.

Fight club

Along with Jungla training, the Colombian police also offers in-country tailor-made specialist courses for regional police forces. Since 2009, it has trained around 8,000 police and soldiers, mostly from Latin America. Some of the most popular courses are:


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