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Colombia: Administrative Security Department
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Law Enforcement > Judicial Police


Another key law enforcement organization is the Administrative Security Department (DAS). The DAS is the state’s primary intelligence agency and has a national role similar to that of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States. Founded in 1960 by Alberto Lleras Camargo (president, 1945–46, 1958–62) to replace the Colombian Intelligence Service, which had been associated with abuses and repression during La Violencia, the DAS mandate is to produce intelligence for the state, with an emphasis on information about threats to national security. Nevertheless, DAS involvement in a variety of policing functions not directly related to intelligence has made the organization a de facto parallel police service.

According to a 2000 decree, the DAS mandate is to provide a wide range of intelligence, security, and police-related services to the national government. Its primary functions relate to domestic and foreign intelligence gathering, the performance of counterintelligence activities, and the investigation of crimes against the internal security of the state. It assists the executive in policy formulation and in decisions affecting security. The DAS exercises judicial police functions, maintains all crime records and judicial files of citizens, manages all migration matters of both Colombian citizens and foreigners, administers the citizen registration and identification system, and provides protection services to high-ranking government officials and to individuals whose security is at risk. The DAS is also the national office of the International Police (Interpol).

The director of the DAS is a civilian appointed directly by the president. In addition to being aided by a secretary general and a deputy director, the director’s support staff includes the offices of planning, legal counsel, communication and press, disciplinary control, and special protection. The organization is divided into two general directorates for intelligence and operations. Intelligence comprises five subdirectorates, including analysis, operations, human resources, counterintelligence, and technological development. The Operations Directorate has four subdirectorates, including strategic investigations, Interpol, alien affairs, and antikidnapping. The capital city of each department has its own section of the DAS. These sections each oversee about 20 security and operational units in municipalities with operational and strategic importance throughout the department’s territory. In 2007 the DAS had an operating budget of US$118 million and approximately 7,000 employees throughout the country, an increase of approximately 10 percent in personnel since 1990.

The Superior Intelligence Academy, located in Bogotá, provides training for intelligence officials and detectives. The academy additionally offers courses required for the advancement of officials and detectives, as well as induction and training programs for all DAS personnel.

Since 2005 a series of institutional crises has shaken the DAS. Evidence of paramilitary penetration of the entity first emerged after the DAS chief of intelligence was accused of corruption involving drug traffickers and paramilitaries. Jorge Noguera Cotes, DAS director from 2002 to 2005, was arrested in 2007 after he had resigned his position and been assigned to a diplomatic post; he was charged with electoral fraud, leaking information to the paramilitaries, and having links with paramilitary leader Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias Jorge 40. This episode not only seriously damaged the credibility of the organization but also had negative implications for U.S. support for President Uribe, who had named Noguera to the position and had repeatedly expressed confidence in his innocence. After Noguera was found guilty of the charges, María del Pilar Hurtado became the first female director of the DAS in August 2007. However, she, too, was implicated in the scandal and resigned on October 24, 2008, and the president appointed her deputy to lead the DAS.

Last Updated: January 2010

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Colombia was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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