The Colombian Navy dealt hard blows to organizations linked to international narcotrafficking cartels through its Red Naval Plus strategy, in coordination with the Attorney General’s Office. As of August 29, the Pacific and Caribbean Naval Forces had weakened nine narcotrafficking groups over the course of 2023.
One of the latest blows to these groups was dealt on August 26, with the capture of 29 members of a Colombian-Ecuadorian organization with links to Mexican cartels, the Colombian Navy indicated in a statement. The result was achieved through a simultaneous action involving the Colombian National Police and the Ecuadorian National Police in the city of Santiago de Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia, and in the provinces of Esmeraldas, Manabí, and Guayas, in Ecuador.
Those captured, citizens of both countries, were dedicated to sending large shipments of cocaine to Mexico and the United States, using go-fast boats, through the Pacific Ocean.
“This group had the capacity to transport 2 tons of cocaine hydrochloride monthly to Mexico, where, with the Mexican cartels, they managed to introduce them to international markets, particularly to the United States,” Colombian Navy Vice Admiral Orlando Grisales Franceschi, chief of Naval Operations Staff, told the media. “This group obtained resources of approximately $66 million per month, approximately $800 million per year, as a result of its illicit activity.”
In the Colombian Pacific, authorities captured 53 members of four structures dedicated to the construction of semi-submersibles and the shipment of narcotics to Central and South America and Europe. In the Colombian Caribbean, the Navy dismantled five narcotrafficking organizations, capturing 57 people.
“The drugs that usually leave through La Guajira come from Catatumbo, Norte de Santander, where there are illegal groups that are controlled by production centers of FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] dissidents and the ELN [National Liberation Army],” Vice Admiral Hernando Mattos Dager, commander of the Caribbean Naval Force, told Diálogo.
The large drug seizures, which weaken narcotrafficking groups, were done through operational synergy between different national authorities as well as a multinational effort. “Many countries are involved that are working in the fight against narcotrafficking at sea, France, Netherlands, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and the United States, among other countries,” Vice Adm. Mattos said.
In total, at the end of August, authorities had captured 413 people linked to narcotrafficking. In the first half of the year, law enforcement seized more than 317 tons of cocaine hydrochloride, according to figures Minister of National Defense Iván Velásquez Gómez provided in his August 8 accountability report.
“Working together has been key to impacting the assets of criminal groups and taking from them, in just over three and a half years, assets valued at close to $7 billion,” Deputy Attorney General Martha Janeth Mancera said during a late August event.
“With the United States we have different programs and within the programs is the FBI that has been a bulwark for us to achieve the identification of transnational organized crime, but beyond that, it is how we generate investigation methodologies that are more efficient, agile, and forceful,” Deputy Attorney Mancera said.