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Colombian Minister of Justice Yesid Reyes concerned over rise of synthetic drugs

By Dialogo
October 22, 2014



Colombian Minister of Justice Yesid Reyes said he’s concerned the increased growth of synthetic drugs in Europe could cause larger problems in his country, where designer drug use is greater than in neighboring countries.

“The possibilities of molecular combination are virtually endless, so the output is easier and can be changed and therefore, is more difficult to control,” he said last week at the first international meeting on the issue of synthetic drugs, which occurred in Colombia’s coastal city of Santa Marta, the capital of the department of Magdalena.

Unlike substances such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, synthetic drugs are made exclusively from chemicals, not plants. One such drug, 2CB - commonly known as pink cocaine - has been on the rise in Colombia. It has led to an uptick in violence among drug cartels and organized crime groups which are seeking to control the synthetic drugs market. Until the emergence of pink cocaine, other illicit substances, including MDMA, which is known as ecstasy, and LSD, have dominated the synthetic drug market in Colombia.

“We must recognize that to achieve adequate and harmonized international work demanded by the appearance of synthetic drugs, it is necessary to ‘decocaine-ize’ the problem of drugs in the region,” said Bo Mathiasen, the chief of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) in Colombia

Synthetic drugs are considered much more dangerous than traditional drugs because they drastically change chemical balances in the brain, which can be lethal.

Criminals sell more than 230 forms of designer drugs in Colombia, according to Gen. José Roberto León Riaño, the director of the Colombian National Police (PNC).

The production of designer drugs is booming, Reyes said. On average, drug traffickers and their operatives create a new synthetic drug every six days.

The United Nations controls 234 substances, but there are 388 new psychoactive substances that are unregulated, creating a problem, according to Reyes.

“It is a challenge worldwide, producing legislation to monitor new drugs because it takes governments longer to produce legal standards than for traffickers to introduce new chemical variations that sidestep the law recently issued,” Reyes said.

Pink cocaine, which was first made in The Netherlands, is attractive to narco-traffickers because it can be sold for more than cocaine. The drug can be diluted into liquids, making it harder to detect.

In March, PNC agents in the city of Pereira, in the department of Risaralda arrested suspected drug trafficker Héctor Castro, who is also known aka “Héctor Largo” and “Tsar.” Until police captured him, Héctor Largo was the the alleged leader of the country’s biggest synthetic drug ring and a suspected member of Clan Úsuga, one of largest drug trafficking groups in Colombia.

Héctor Largo, who was wanted in connection with several homicides in the western department of Valle de Cauca, allegedly oversaw clandestine laboratories in the city of Cali that produced synthetic drugs and trafficked them nationwide.


Colombian Minister of Justice Yesid Reyes said he’s concerned the increased growth of synthetic drugs in Europe could cause larger problems in his country, where designer drug use is greater than in neighboring countries.

“The possibilities of molecular combination are virtually endless, so the output is easier and can be changed and therefore, is more difficult to control,” he said last week at the first international meeting on the issue of synthetic drugs, which occurred in Colombia’s coastal city of Santa Marta, the capital of the department of Magdalena.

Unlike substances such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, synthetic drugs are made exclusively from chemicals, not plants. One such drug, 2CB - commonly known as pink cocaine - has been on the rise in Colombia. It has led to an uptick in violence among drug cartels and organized crime groups which are seeking to control the synthetic drugs market. Until the emergence of pink cocaine, other illicit substances, including MDMA, which is known as ecstasy, and LSD, have dominated the synthetic drug market in Colombia.

“We must recognize that to achieve adequate and harmonized international work demanded by the appearance of synthetic drugs, it is necessary to ‘decocaine-ize’ the problem of drugs in the region,” said Bo Mathiasen, the chief of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) in Colombia

Synthetic drugs are considered much more dangerous than traditional drugs because they drastically change chemical balances in the brain, which can be lethal.

Criminals sell more than 230 forms of designer drugs in Colombia, according to Gen. José Roberto León Riaño, the director of the Colombian National Police (PNC).

The production of designer drugs is booming, Reyes said. On average, drug traffickers and their operatives create a new synthetic drug every six days.

The United Nations controls 234 substances, but there are 388 new psychoactive substances that are unregulated, creating a problem, according to Reyes.

“It is a challenge worldwide, producing legislation to monitor new drugs because it takes governments longer to produce legal standards than for traffickers to introduce new chemical variations that sidestep the law recently issued,” Reyes said.

Pink cocaine, which was first made in The Netherlands, is attractive to narco-traffickers because it can be sold for more than cocaine. The drug can be diluted into liquids, making it harder to detect.

In March, PNC agents in the city of Pereira, in the department of Risaralda arrested suspected drug trafficker Héctor Castro, who is also known aka “Héctor Largo” and “Tsar.” Until police captured him, Héctor Largo was the the alleged leader of the country’s biggest synthetic drug ring and a suspected member of Clan Úsuga, one of largest drug trafficking groups in Colombia.

Héctor Largo, who was wanted in connection with several homicides in the western department of Valle de Cauca, allegedly oversaw clandestine laboratories in the city of Cali that produced synthetic drugs and trafficked them nationwide.
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