Mexican cartels are active in Colombia, National Police says
By Dialogo September 24, 2014
Mexican drug cartels have a new strategy, according to Gen. Ricardo Alberto Restrepo Londoño: cut out the middleman.
“We have discovered that there are Mexican cartels which have arrived in Colombia basically to negotiate and transport the drug themselves. This gives them better returns and means Colombian traffickers are at less risk of being captured or caught in foreign judicial investigations.”
Restrepo Londoño, head of Colombia’s National Police Counter-narcotics Division, elaborated on the problem to reporters at a September 22 press conference. Colombian police have acknowledged for years that Mexican drug traffickers have close links to Colombian cocaine producers. Now, they’re also operating from within the Andean nation. Though Restrepo Londoño didn’t reveal the specific names of those cartels, Colombian National Police (PNC) agents and soldiers with the Colombian National Army have captured alleged members of the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas in recent years.
Colombian security forces have also confiscated numerous drug shipments that were bound for the Sinaloa and Los Zetas cartels. For instance, in late August, Colombian police confiscated 1.3 tons of cocaine hidden on a ship scheduled to depart from the Pacific port of Buenaventura, bound for the Guatemalan port of Quetzal. Police believe the cocaine belonged to the Sinaloa Cartel.
In response to the prospect of Mexican cartel activity in Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos has launched a probe in the department of Nariño, where the majority of coca – the main ingredient used to produce cocaine – is cultivated. That investigation is part of a broad effort by the PNC, the Army, and the Navy to crack down on the drug trade, leading to a number of large seizures this year. For instance, the Colombian Navy has seized more than 28 tons of cocaine in the Colombian Caribbean so far in 2014.
Meanwhile, as Colombian authorities fight Mexican cartels in the Andean nation, Mexican officials continue to combat them domestically. On Monday, members of the Mexican Marines, the federal police, and SIEDO – the organized crime unit of the Attorney General’s office – captured Samuel Sánchez Lemus, the alleged leader of Los Zetas in the northern Mexican city of Saltillo, Coahuila state.
Security forces also captured seven other alleged Los Zetas operatives, and seized five high-powered assault rifles, two dozen ammunition clips, 1,800 rounds of ammunition, about 600 packets of marijuana and 250 packets of cocaine.
These arrests come less than a month after Federal and Tamaulipas State police captured Mario Alberto Arce Moreno, an alleged narco-trafficking leader of the Los Zetas in the states of Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas.
He is “one of the main leaders of a criminal organization that has generated much of the violence” in Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas, according to the National Security Commission.