Colombian National Police deal a strong blow to Los Urabeños
By Dialogo May 08, 2014
Colombian National Police have seized a large shipment of cocaine that allegedly belonged to the drug trafficking group Los Urabeños and a group of Mexican organized crime operatives.
“Exceptional” intelligence work led to the seizure of seven tons of drugs inside a large container at the port in Cartagena. It was “one of the largest seizures in history,” Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón said during a press conference held on April 9. It was the largest single drug seizure in Colombia since 2005.
The seizure was so large “it has destabilized the finances of criminal organizations,” Pinzón said. “The government will continue to crack down on crime and criminality.”
The cocaine has a street value of more than $240 million (USD), officials said.
The container full of cocaine was scheduled to leave the Port Authority of Cartagena on a ship bound for the Netherlands.
Agents from the Anti-Narcotics Directorate of Colombia, the Colombian Navy, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) collaborated on the investigation. Colombia and the U.S. cooperate on security issues, primarily by sharing information.
Investigators collected evidence that organized crime operatives were preparing to ship a large amount of cocaine from the port in Cartagena.
Organized crime operatives transported the cocaine through land routes from Bogotá to the port in Cartagena. The drug traffickers hid the cocaine inside fruit jars.
Anti-narcotics agents obtained intelligence that a large amount of cocaine was at the port. The agents responded and searched five large containers.
One of the containers was filled with about 450 boxes. The agents searched the boxes and found the cocaine hidden inside nearly 7,000 packages.
Logos on cocaine packages
Police agents found logos used by Colombian and Mexican drug traffickers on the packages of cocaine, Gen. Rodolfo Palomino, the director of the National Police of Colombia (PNC), told El Tiempo in an article published April 12.
The packages had three different logos: the number “800” and logos for Yamaha motorcycles and KIA automobiles. The Colombia-based drug trafficking group Los Urabeños is known to use the 800 logo. The same logo was found in a two-ton shipment of cocaine seized in recent weeks at the port of Buenaventura, Colombia’s main port on the Pacific coast, according to a written report by the PNC.
Los Urabeños operates in 17 of Colombia’s 32 departments.
Because the investigation is ongoing, authorities declined to publicly disclose which Mexican drug trafficking group is suspected of having possessed some of the cocaine that was seized. Officials also declined to publicly disclose which logo the Mexican organized crime group is suspected of using.
Capital, contacts, and routes
Based on their investigation, authorities said Los Urabeños transported two large shipments of cocaine from the port of Cartagena to Europe in March. One shipment contained five tons, and the other contained 4 tons, authorities believe.
Large drug trafficking groups like Los Urabeños and Mexican transnational criminal organizations have access to the kinds of resources needed to transport large amounts of drugs internationally, said Gustavo Duncan, a security analyst at the University of the Andes.
“The cargos and shipments of powerful cartels can provide capital, contacts, a route and a guarantee,” Duncan told Dialogo. “Mexican organizations have an advantage in Europe.”
The large seizure at the port is both a “success and concern” for authorities, Duncan said. “Seven tons of cocaine (represents) a lot of hectares of drugs.”
The seven-ton seizure at the port in Cartagena was the largest drug seizure in Colombia since authorities seized 10.5 tons of cocaine in October 2008.
In another major drug seizure, in May 2005, the National Police and the Navy seized more than 15 tons of cocaine that was hidden in a cove on the banks of the Mira River in Tumaco, Nariño.
In that case, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and other rebel groups had planned to send the cocaine to Europe and the United States.
Drug trafficking alliances
Los Urabeños and other drug trafficking organizations which operate in Colombia, such as Los Rastrojos transport drugs produced in Colombia to other destinations, such Duncan said. These and other drug trafficking groups also transport cocaine manufactured in Peru and Bolivia to seaports in Colombia, and from the seaports to other destinations, such as Europe, according to the security analyst.
Since January 1, Colombian National Police have seized 34 tons of cocaine, including 16 tons at ports, according to government statistics. In 2013, Colombian police seized more than 166 tons of cocaine throughout the country.
Colombian security forces have made great strides in fighting drug trafficking groups, but they must remain vigilant, Duncan said. Security forces must continue to crack down on the alliances formed by various drug trafficking organizations, and international cooperation is crucial in the fight against drug trafficking.
Fighting drug trafficking is a high priority for the Colombian government. Security forces are constantly adjusting their security strategy to respond to the changing tactics of drug traffickers.
“The government will continue to crack down on crime and criminality,” Pinzón said.
I hope they arrest and put an end to these evil mafias that destroy humanity in order to obtain incalculable monetary gains without taking into account the harm caused to all nations. May God bless all the people that make up the antinarcotics group and the nations with great values. May the holy Virgin of Guadalupe protect and guide them to find these diabolic groups. I'm glad they were finally able to end this scourge that is so destructive for the global youth. I hope that with the help of almighty God we can end this self-destruction caused by men. Very good article. Reading late but old news like this always draws attention.