Colombia to get U.S. support to fight crime gangs: Santos

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos addresses a United Nations General Assembly special session on the world drug problem at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

BOGOTA (Reuters) - The United States will provide intelligence to support Colombia in its fight against crime gangs, considered the biggest threat to the Andean nation’s security, President Juan Manuel Santos said on Wednesday.

There are about 3,000 members spread across three gangs earning millions of dollars from drug trafficking and illegal mining, the national police have said. The groups formed after a peace agreement with right-wing paramilitary groups in 2006 failed to absorb hundreds into society.

“The U.S. will help with intelligence. The most effective strategy against these organizations is intelligence,” Santos said in an interview with local Caracol radio.

U.S. support was crucial in battling drug cartels from Cali and Medellin in the 1990s as well as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which is currently negotiating an end to five decades of war the government.

Santos said that once peace is signed with the Marxist FARC rebels he will have much more military resources to combat crime gangs.

Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Helen Murphy