Latin American Partner Nations and U.S. Cooperate to Interdict Drugs

By Dialogo
April 23, 2015



The Colombian National Police, working in close collaboration with the U.S. and drug enforcement agents from Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Honduras, has substantially increased the interdiction of cocaine shipments leaving the country.

From January 1 through March 31, the Police’s Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol (DIJIN), with the help of its international partner nations, has seized nearly 10 tons of cocaine being transported out of Colombia via air, sea, and land. By comparison, the DIJIN seized 14 tons of cocaine in all of 2014.

“Thanks to several investigations we’ve discovered the routes, transport structures, logistics, and the operations that numerous criminal structures have established in other countries,” said Major Ricardo Durán of the DIJIN.

In April, the DIJIN seized nearly 1.5 tons belonging to the Clan Úsuga, a major drug trafficking organization, during three different operations in western departments. The previous month, law enforcement agents seized 450 kilograms of cocaine in Ecuador, and another 200 kilograms from a Panamanian ship.

And a month before those seizures, in February, police agents found 3.5 tons of cocaine bound for Mexico hidden in a shipment of fertilizer in the Caribbean city of Cartagena. Also in February, the DIJIN – working with national and international law enforcement agencies – discovered 260 kilograms camouflaged in a truck with the United Nations’ logo, and more than one ton on a speedboat racing across the waters of El Salvador and Guatemala.

Targeting major guerrilla and organized crime groups


The National Police, the DIJIN, and drug enforcement agents from the partner nations are focusing their efforts on major criminal organizations which traffic drugs, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), the Clan Úsuga, and other groups. These organizations use drug trafficking routes to transport cocaine from Colombia or Ecuador through Central America and ultimately to Mexico and the United States. Narcotrafficking operatives often use speedboats to move the drugs from hidden and makeshift ports on Colombia’s Pacific Coast and the Urabá Antioqueño region near the Panamanian border in the Caribbean, to points north, where they connect transnational criminal partners, such as the Sinaloa Cartel, a major Mexican organized crime group.

For example, in recent months Colombian drug enforcement agents captured nine alleged members of the Sinaloa Cartel in Ecuador in a joint operation with that country’s law enforcement authorities. The law enforcement officers also detained a Mexican plane carrying 400 kilograms of cocaine base near the San Luis Obispo Airport in Ipiales, Nariño Department.

“Starting at least a year ago, the Mexican cartels have been sending their men to the country (Colombia),” Major Durán said. “It lowers their costs since there are no intermediaries. That way they can negotiate directly with the Colombian criminal gangs and oversee all the shipments.”

Multi-national coordination


To battle this transnational threat, the DIJIN is teaming up with Colombia's Armed Forces which has facilitated communications with Ecuador’s Antinarcotics Police and the authorities of Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Honduras. Special units from the DIJIN have been working long hours to coordinate operations in at least eight different countries. The DIJIN has captured drug traffickers from eight countries – Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Mexico - and those arrests indicate the extent of the criminal alliances of Southern and Central American drug trafficking organizations.

“We’ve set up different controls that have allowed us to more effectively stop the arrival and departure of drugs inside and outside the country,” Maj. Durán said. “The sharing of information and coordination have been fundamental for those results.”


The Colombian National Police, working in close collaboration with the U.S. and drug enforcement agents from Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Honduras, has substantially increased the interdiction of cocaine shipments leaving the country.

From January 1 through March 31, the Police’s Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol (DIJIN), with the help of its international partner nations, has seized nearly 10 tons of cocaine being transported out of Colombia via air, sea, and land. By comparison, the DIJIN seized 14 tons of cocaine in all of 2014.

“Thanks to several investigations we’ve discovered the routes, transport structures, logistics, and the operations that numerous criminal structures have established in other countries,” said Major Ricardo Durán of the DIJIN.

In April, the DIJIN seized nearly 1.5 tons belonging to the Clan Úsuga, a major drug trafficking organization, during three different operations in western departments. The previous month, law enforcement agents seized 450 kilograms of cocaine in Ecuador, and another 200 kilograms from a Panamanian ship.

And a month before those seizures, in February, police agents found 3.5 tons of cocaine bound for Mexico hidden in a shipment of fertilizer in the Caribbean city of Cartagena. Also in February, the DIJIN – working with national and international law enforcement agencies – discovered 260 kilograms camouflaged in a truck with the United Nations’ logo, and more than one ton on a speedboat racing across the waters of El Salvador and Guatemala.

Targeting major guerrilla and organized crime groups


The National Police, the DIJIN, and drug enforcement agents from the partner nations are focusing their efforts on major criminal organizations which traffic drugs, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), the Clan Úsuga, and other groups. These organizations use drug trafficking routes to transport cocaine from Colombia or Ecuador through Central America and ultimately to Mexico and the United States. Narcotrafficking operatives often use speedboats to move the drugs from hidden and makeshift ports on Colombia’s Pacific Coast and the Urabá Antioqueño region near the Panamanian border in the Caribbean, to points north, where they connect transnational criminal partners, such as the Sinaloa Cartel, a major Mexican organized crime group.

For example, in recent months Colombian drug enforcement agents captured nine alleged members of the Sinaloa Cartel in Ecuador in a joint operation with that country’s law enforcement authorities. The law enforcement officers also detained a Mexican plane carrying 400 kilograms of cocaine base near the San Luis Obispo Airport in Ipiales, Nariño Department.

“Starting at least a year ago, the Mexican cartels have been sending their men to the country (Colombia),” Major Durán said. “It lowers their costs since there are no intermediaries. That way they can negotiate directly with the Colombian criminal gangs and oversee all the shipments.”

Multi-national coordination


To battle this transnational threat, the DIJIN is teaming up with Colombia's Armed Forces which has facilitated communications with Ecuador’s Antinarcotics Police and the authorities of Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Honduras. Special units from the DIJIN have been working long hours to coordinate operations in at least eight different countries. The DIJIN has captured drug traffickers from eight countries – Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Mexico - and those arrests indicate the extent of the criminal alliances of Southern and Central American drug trafficking organizations.

“We’ve set up different controls that have allowed us to more effectively stop the arrival and departure of drugs inside and outside the country,” Maj. Durán said. “The sharing of information and coordination have been fundamental for those results.”
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