Colombia’s FIAU cracks down on money laundering by illegal groups

By Dialogo
November 03, 2014



Drug trafficking syndicates and terrorist organizations generate about $14 billion (USD) from narco-sales and illegal mining annually, the Colombian government reported October 28.

Narco-trafficking by the Clan Úsuga and other gangs generates about $10 billion (USD) annually, while illegal mining generates about $4 billion (USD) for outlaw groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), according to Luis Edmundo Suárez, the director of Colombia's Financial Information and Analysis Unit (FIAU).

Illegal groups launder these funds through businesses that primarily use cash, conducting transactions such as buying real estate and cars, to try to avoid detection by law enforcement authorities. Some outlaw groups also run their own businesses, such as ranches and farms, to launder the money.

“[Financial schemes are] the channel that the authorities have traditionally clamped down on with greater strength,” Suárez told reporters. “All the strict measures taken within the financial sector meant that criminals have moved their money-washing practices into the real sector of the economy.”

The FIAU is becoming increasingly effective at detecting laundered cash.

Consequently, since 2010, the FIAU has recovered nearly $2 billion (USD) in laundered money. The Colombian government has also initiated more than 500 judicial processes against money laundering in the past five years, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

“Colombia is the country that does the most against money-laundering in Latin America” Bo Mathiasen, the UNODC’s representative in Colombia, told reporters.

Spanish police arrest alleged narco-traffickers


After eight years on the run, a narco-trafficker who smuggled cocaine from Colombia to Spain has been caught – thanks to several boxes of bananas.

A shipment of bananas from Colombia seized by Spanish police held 54 kilograms of cocaine, which they connected with alleged drug trafficker Antonio Manuel B.I. as well as eight other suspects on October 29.

Police dogs trained to sniff out contraband, including drugs, alerted law enforcement agents to the containers in the port of Marín in the northwestern region of Galicia. Officers captured six suspects when they arrived to allegedly pick up the cocaine, and caught three other suspects in the municipality of Dílar. Those suspects allegedly organized the shipment of drugs.

In 2006, a Spanish court sentenced Manuel B.I. to 17 years in prison for drug smuggling and other crimes. At that point he fled, and had been a fugitive until Spanish police captured him. Before he ran away, Manuel B.I. had allegedly participated in a narco-trafficking ring that smuggled large amounts of cocaine from Colombian into Spain, police said.

Until the police dogs detected cocaine in the banana shipment, Manuel B.I. used various methods to evade capture.

“In addition to using false documents, technological systems to prevent his communications from being intercepted and bodyguards, he also frequently changed his physical appearance,” Spanish police said.


Drug trafficking syndicates and terrorist organizations generate about $14 billion (USD) from narco-sales and illegal mining annually, the Colombian government reported October 28.

Narco-trafficking by the Clan Úsuga and other gangs generates about $10 billion (USD) annually, while illegal mining generates about $4 billion (USD) for outlaw groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), according to Luis Edmundo Suárez, the director of Colombia's Financial Information and Analysis Unit (FIAU).

Illegal groups launder these funds through businesses that primarily use cash, conducting transactions such as buying real estate and cars, to try to avoid detection by law enforcement authorities. Some outlaw groups also run their own businesses, such as ranches and farms, to launder the money.

“[Financial schemes are] the channel that the authorities have traditionally clamped down on with greater strength,” Suárez told reporters. “All the strict measures taken within the financial sector meant that criminals have moved their money-washing practices into the real sector of the economy.”

The FIAU is becoming increasingly effective at detecting laundered cash.

Consequently, since 2010, the FIAU has recovered nearly $2 billion (USD) in laundered money. The Colombian government has also initiated more than 500 judicial processes against money laundering in the past five years, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

“Colombia is the country that does the most against money-laundering in Latin America” Bo Mathiasen, the UNODC’s representative in Colombia, told reporters.

Spanish police arrest alleged narco-traffickers


After eight years on the run, a narco-trafficker who smuggled cocaine from Colombia to Spain has been caught – thanks to several boxes of bananas.

A shipment of bananas from Colombia seized by Spanish police held 54 kilograms of cocaine, which they connected with alleged drug trafficker Antonio Manuel B.I. as well as eight other suspects on October 29.

Police dogs trained to sniff out contraband, including drugs, alerted law enforcement agents to the containers in the port of Marín in the northwestern region of Galicia. Officers captured six suspects when they arrived to allegedly pick up the cocaine, and caught three other suspects in the municipality of Dílar. Those suspects allegedly organized the shipment of drugs.

In 2006, a Spanish court sentenced Manuel B.I. to 17 years in prison for drug smuggling and other crimes. At that point he fled, and had been a fugitive until Spanish police captured him. Before he ran away, Manuel B.I. had allegedly participated in a narco-trafficking ring that smuggled large amounts of cocaine from Colombian into Spain, police said.

Until the police dogs detected cocaine in the banana shipment, Manuel B.I. used various methods to evade capture.

“In addition to using false documents, technological systems to prevent his communications from being intercepted and bodyguards, he also frequently changed his physical appearance,” Spanish police said.
The illegal trafficking of drugs is one of the most critical problems. In Peru, in the VRAE region, it has become one of the biggest threats together with the actions by the left-over Shining Path, with whom they are allied. The illegal importation of foreign aircraft (small planes) to the region using hidden runways, make the problem of control worse, giving the limitations on executing lethal air attacks. It is urgent to get serious about strengthening laws against the TID.
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