The US anti-narcotics operations in Colombia have apparently hit a roadblock, with unpaid US Federal Government agents struggling to pay for daily expenses as a result of the government shutdown.
More than 100 agents belonging to major US federal agencies, such as DEA and FBI, are working in Colombia, some of whom are living with their families.
As they have not been paid for more than a month, the agencies are sending the staff home and putting off critical missions, reported Spanish newspaper EL Tiempo, citing unnamed government sources.
The narcotics gangs may take advantage of the situation, as they are aware that the agencies are running short of resources, according to the report.
Some agencies are postponing training programs, and “internal trips have been reduced to the limit”, the paper said.
President Donald Trump reopened the government last week, but the shutdown has already taken its toll.
The agents are handling the crucial role of tracking down drug traffickers, and coordinating with the Colombian security forces in identifying cocaine cultivation.
The news comes at a time the Colombian government is struggling to protect its historic peace deal signed with FARC rebels amid reports that cocaine production is at a record high in the South American country.
Under the agreement signed with the United States, Columbia has to cut cocaine production by half over the next 4 years.
The Colombian government has invested a huge amount of resources in persuading local farmers to grow legal crops instead of coca. Recently, there have been more than a dozen killings of community leaders working with farmers.