The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) met with the Chilean Investigative Police (PDI) to exchange experiences, strengthen police capability, and address emerging criminal scenarios related to narcotrafficking, the PDI and the U.S. Embassy in Chile said via Twitter.
“This meeting was born out of the PDI’s latest investigative experiences, which reveal never-before-seen quantities of seized precursor chemicals, dedicated to the manufacture and purification of cocaine,” Commissioner Patricio Navarro, head of the PDI’s Controlled Chemical Substances Investigative Brigade, told Diálogo on March 20. “The synthetic drug boom phenomenon has been going on in Chile for several years now,” he added.
At the conference, police investigators were able to update their knowledge and better prepare for future police operations involving illicit and complex synthetic drugs. The meeting was carried out on February 22 at the PDI headquarters in Santiago, Chile, the PDI said in a statement.
“We work together with the PDI and are delighted to hold. this type of conference to learn more about where these drugs come from,” U.S. Ambassador to Chile Bernadette Meehan told Chilean news site Puranoticia.
“The DEA is a police force that has a lot of experience in combating illicit drug trafficking, with complex criminal organizations, and also with drugs that we don’t see in Chile yet,” Commissioner Navarro said. “Therefore, this bilateral cooperation is very valuable for the PDI because it allows us to forecast scenarios, prepare for investigative situations, and also handle more complex illicit substances than we have in Chile.”
Sergio Muñoz, PDI general director; Joseph Holguin, regional director of the Southern Cone DEA, and Ambassador Meehan, attended the meeting. Also present at the event were 75 agents from the Anti-Narcotics, Organized Crime, and other units of the Chilean Police, along with representatives of the Controlled Chemical Substances Unit of the Chilean Ministry of the Interior and Public Security.
“The value of these types of occurrences is the mutual knowledge that we are going to be able to transfer,” Muñoz told Chilean newspaper La Tercera. “We have spoken with Ambassador Meehan to offer the possibility of academic exchanges for DEA agents and the same with our officials in her agency, which will allow us to train and learn about new types of drugs and crimes.”
The DEA representatives shared with their Chilean counterparts methods for the misuse of chemical precursors, laboratory operations, and forensic science related to fentanyl, the PDI said in its statement. This drug for medical use but also produced illicitly causes concern in the northern hemisphere because of its dangers due to its high potency — only 2 mg can cause death.
The meeting also discussed the boom in cocaine manufacture and seizures in the region, which has exceeded all projections. Nearly 2,000 tons of cocaine were produced globally in 2020, more than the 1,800 tons manufactured in 2019, according to the Global Report on Cocaine 2023 that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published on March 16.
“Narco activity is increasing in efficiency just like any other industrial activity,” Commissioner Navarro said. “There is an increase in efficiency in the processes of extraction and purification of coca and it is rooted in that today, with a certain amount of coca leaves, you have the potential to produce twice as much cocaine base paste as 20 years ago.”
“International cooperation at the police institutional level is a fundamental component in the fight against drug trafficking, especially international organizations dedicated to the illicit trafficking of narcotics,” Commissioner Navarro concluded. “Drugs can be produced in one country, marketed in another, and the profits obtained in a third country, while criminal leaders can be in yet another. So one country alone is not going to be able to overcome the drug trafficking problem, but united we can.”