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DEA Administrator Attended Colombian National Police Jungla Commandos Commencement Ceremony

December 6, 2011.

From left to right: DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Michael McKinley and Colombia's National Police Director General Oscar Naranjo

The 2011 International Jungla Commandos course started on July 18 with 107 students from Colombia and 11 other Latin American countries, including Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Paraguay.

Diplomatic representatives from Latin America, the European Union and the United States accompanied the 65 students who graduated during this commencement ceremony.

Present at the ceremony were Colombia's National Police Director General Oscar Naranjo, visiting DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart and U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Michael McKinley.

The Jungla Commandos are Colombia’s premier national counter-narcotics interdiction unit under the Colombian National Police’s (CNP) Directorate of Counter Narcotics (DIRAN).  It is made up of  518 active duty Junglas divided into three companies based in Santa Marta (Department of Magdalena), Facatativá (Department of Cundinamarca) and Tuluá (Department of Valle.)

The most important mission of the Jungla commandos is the destruction of drug laboratories and interdiction of narcotics caches and stockpiles of precursor chemicals.  The CNP’s high-risk urban operations are typically handled by an urban interdiction group.  Since 2004, participants from around the world have been invited to attend the four-month training course, with emphasis on rural operations.  This year’s Jungla course has had the largest number of regional participants to date. 

This Colombian initiative is supported by the U. S. Embassy through its Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS) and the DEA, which support the efforts of the CNP on security matters and the war on drugs in Latina America.

Since 2007, the NAS-financed CNP National Training Center in Pijaos has trained nearly 300 international students.  NAS has allotted nearly 8 million dollars in the construction of the training center’s initial phase, inaugurated in 2008.

Since then, the CNP has invested four times that sum to turn Pijaos into the first Police training school in Latin America and an example of the excellent cooperation between Colombia and the United States to achieve international security and drug interdiction.