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Colombian-led Multinational Operations Deal Blow to Transnational Crime in the Caribbean

Colombian-led Multinational Operations Deal Blow to Transnational Crime in the Caribbean

By Myriam Ortega/Diálogo
August 09, 2021

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Cooperation among security forces in the region yielded results in early July, leading to the seizure of more than 3 tons of cocaine in multinational operations, the Colombian Navy reported in a statement. Costa Rican, Dominican, Panamanian, and U.S. authorities launched three operations based on intelligence provided by the Colombian naval institution.

“These operations originate from work conducted within the Colombian Navy, where [we] obtain information about the shipment of these drugs from Colombian territory, and [we] coordinate with authorities from other countries so that they can carry out interdiction activities,” Colombian Navy Captain Joaquín Adolfo Urrego Silva, commander of the 73rd Counternarcotics Task Force Neptune, told Diálogo. “All [the operations] always involve constant communication, so as to follow up on each piece of information provided.”

The first operation began after the Colombian Navy identified a drug shipment aboard two speedboats that set sail from Titumate municipality, Chocó department, in the Pacific coast of Colombia. The vessels headed to Panama, where narcotraffickers received the shipment and hid it in bags under the ground, the Navy said in a statement. With Colombian intelligence, units of the Panamanian National Air and Naval Service found a warehouse with 1,968 kilograms of cocaine in the ​​Costa Abajo area, Colón province.

At the same time, 20 nautical miles northeast of Limón in Costa Rica, units of the National Coast Guard Service, with the support of Panamanian authorities and U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF South), intercepted a motorboat carrying 1,002 kg of cocaine. According to the Colombian Navy, the vessel, manned by two Nicaraguans and one Colombian national, had set sail from La Guajira department, in the Caribbean coast of Colombia.

Authorities conducted the third seizure in Dominican waters, where units of the Dominican Republic naval force and JIATF South intercepted a speedboat manned by two Dominicans and a Colombian national, which, according to Colombian intelligence, had also set sail from La Guajira, with 401 kg of cocaine on board.

“By combining the efforts of each of these institutions that share the same goal of combating narcotrafficking, we were able to unify some criteria and consolidate some ways to tackle it, and that is why we have so far had very good engagement with most countries in Central America and the Greater Caribbean,” Capt. Urrego said.

From January 1 to July 18, 2021, the Caribbean Naval Force and the 73rd Counternarcotics Task Force Neptune took part in operations against narcotrafficking that led to the seizure of 87,376 kg of cocaine hydrochloride and 180 kg of marijuana, Capt. Urrego said. In addition, they contributed to the destruction of 18 facilities or labs and the seizure of 222,411 kg of solid chemical precursors, 134,760 liters of liquid chemical precursors, and 46 vehicles, including aircraft, motorboats, and semisubmersibles.