Eighteen alleged members of a transnational drug-trafficking organization dedicated to building and outfitting submersible vessels for the transport of illicit substances from the Colombian Pacific coast to Central and North America were arrested for extradition, in a coordinated operation involving the National Navy, the National Attorney-General’s Office, and U.S. authorities.
The criminal structure is believed responsible for the manufacture and distribution of controlled substances, as well as planning and logistical support for the submersible seized in the town of San Lorenzo, Ecuador, on July 2, 2010, and the submersible seized in the municipality of Timbiqui, Cauca, on February 13 of this year, among other offenses.
After 13 months of investigative work, the arrests were made in the cities of Bogota, Cali, Pereira, Ibague, Manizales, San Andres, and Providencia and the municipalities of Buenaventura and Tumaco.
Among the 18 individuals arrested is alias “El Chino” or “Richard,” the general coordinator and the person in charge of arranging the transport and shipment of the narcotics that were to be carried by the submersible seized in Timbiqui, Cauca, in February. Another of those arrested is alias “Francisco” or “La Gata,” in charge of logistics and the construction of the illegal vessel.
According to investigators, this organization relied on retired National Navy personnel with knowledge of navigation and of the use of electronic equipment characteristic of these illegal vessels in order to carry out their criminal activities.
Four retired members of the service and one active petty officer, who appears to have supplied operational information to the criminal organization, were among those arrested.