Colombia Arrests 20 Members of Network Sending Cocaine to U.S. and Europe

By Dialogo
November 01, 2010

In various locations around the country, the Colombian authorities arrested twenty members of a network that was sending cocaine by ship to the United States – by way of Central American ports – and to Europe, Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera affirmed.

In a joint operation by the Colombian police and the Colombian public prosecutor’s office, twenty alleged members of the drug-trafficking cartels ‘La Oficina de Envigado’ and ‘Los Rastrojos’ were arrested “simultaneously,” Rivera said.

The detentions took place in the cities of Cartagena and San Andrés (in the Caribbean region) and Medellín and Turbo (in the northwest), he specified, adding that among those arrested are individuals in the service of Colombian drug trafficker Maximiliano Bonilla, alias ‘Valenciano,’ a liaison with Mexican cartels.

“The majority of those arrested are a series of persons, including workers at shipping firms and port guards, security personnel, and mechanics, who facilitated the contamination of containers” with cocaine, Rivera emphasized.

“The gang brought the drugs into the port moments before the vessel departed and camouflaged them in canvas bags with a capacity of up to thirty kilos each. Then they broke the security seals, introduced the alkaloid into the containers, and sealed them again with copies of the seals,” he recounted.

According to the official account, the drugs introduced onto the ships were headed for the United States by way of ports in Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. In other cases, the gang members also introduced the alkaloid onto vessels headed for Europe.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) believes that ‘Valenciano’ has direct ties to the Mexican ‘Los Zetas’ cartel. Drug-trafficking and money-laundering charges have been pending against him in a New York court since 2008.

Until 2009, Colombia was the world’s leading producer of coca, but it has been displaced by Peru, according to a study by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released in June.

Those arrested were charged with criminal conspiracy and with manufacturing and trafficking narcotics.



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