In mid-October, the Colombian Navy led a riverine operation, with the support of the Colombian Army and Air Force, in which they managed to locate and destroy a mega-lab with the capacity to produce more than 3,000 kilograms of cocaine per month. The complex, found in the Tumaco municipality, in Nariño department, consisted of 14 structures that likely belong to Los Contadores, a dissident group of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish), the Navy said in a statement.
Following aerial reconnaissance and intelligence gathering efforts, authorities found the complex and launched a riverine operation due to the inhospitable conditions in the area, Colonel Jaime Zambrano, commander of the Colombian Navy’s 4th Marine Corps Brigade, told Diálogo.
The mega-lab had the capacity to carry out the different phases of cocaine base paste processing and cocaine hydrochloride crystallization, as well as pressing and packaging. At the facilities, authorities found 2,065 kg of cocaine hydrochloride, 222 kg of coca base paste, 681 liters of fuel, 800 kg of food supplies, machinery, and other equipment used for drug production. In addition, they seized 5,925 kg of solid chemical precursors and 17,980 liters of liquid chemical precursors.
“These last two figures are important, because they help us prevent this group from polluting tributaries with chemicals and damaging the mangrove area, which is a protected area,” Col. Zambrano said.
Authorities destroyed the material and the facilities found in a controlled manner on site, the Navy said.
Col. Zambrano explained that Los Contadores have a partnership with the United Guerillas of the Pacific, another FARC dissident group, which are waging turf wars with other gangs to control illicit crops, labs, and international narcotrafficking routes in the region. “This blow was very important because it affected the finances of these two groups, preventing about $100 million from entering their illegal economies,” he said.
So far this year, until October 28, the Pacific Naval Force has seized more than 146 tons of cocaine hydrochloride and more than 50 tons of marijuana, the officer said. Additionally, the force has seized more than 37 tons of solid chemical precursors and 230 tons of liquid chemical precursors.