Colombian National Police seized more than 3.3 tons of cocaine presumed to have been heading to Europe and the United States. Writes Yousef Choudhri
In two simultaneous drug busts, Colombian National Police seized more than 3.3 tons of cocaine presumed to have been heading to Europe and to the United States.
A routine inspection of a cargo container filled with fertilizer in the port of Bonaventura yielded 2.3 tons, a police statement said. The container had left Ecuador and was bound for Rotterdam. The value of the discovery is worth US$80 million.
A second discovery in north-west Colombia, close to the Panama border, produced another cocaine seizure of 1,056 kilograms. After what appears to be a crash landing of a small airplane, authorities discovered the large quantity on a beach close to Acandí.
According to police, the area of Acandí and the Choco province is known as a hideout for criminal organizations. The region is a central node in trafficking narcotics northbound to the United States. It is suspected that the load would be transferred to submarines bound for North America.
The seizures were a collaborative effort with the Colombian National Police and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents under Colombia’s new Esmeralda strategy in combating drug trafficking.
The Clan del Golfo cartel and the Segunda Marquetalia cartel are said to be behind the large-scale trafficking network. The National Police press release named both cartels in their involvement with narcotics trafficking to African and European destinations.
In 2018, the US Attorney General designated Clan del Golfo as a top transnational organized threat. The highly structured criminal organization has a widespread presence across Colombian territory and uses Panama and other Central American countries as a route to import cocaine into the U.S. Its members have been indicted in the past for drug-trafficking, homicide, arms trafficking, extortion and money-laundering.
The Segunda Marquetalia cartel is made up of former FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerilla fighters operating along the Colombian-Venezuelan border, according to a recent InSight Crime report. In November, Secretary of State Antony Blinken identified the group as a threat to national security and the American economy, citing its potential to commit acts of terrorism.
In December, the Department of Treasury imposed a volume of counter-terrorism sanctions against members affiliated with Segunda Marquetalia.