HomeNewsAnalysisColombia Seizes 12 Tons of Cocaine Bound for Mexico
ANALYSIS

Colombia Seizes 12 Tons of Cocaine Bound for Mexico

COLOMBIA / 24 MAY 2011 BY JEREMY MCDERMOTT EN

Colombian authorities discovered 12 tons of cocaine in a container headed for Mexico, most likely a shipment from Colombia’s Rastrojos to a Mexican cartel, while police simultaneously seized $2.8 million in cash, believed to be payment for a previous drug consignment.

The cocaine, seized in the Caribbean port of Cartagena, was mixed with brown sugar, but detected by sniffer dogs. There were between 12 and 16 tons of the drug in the shipment, said the head of naval operations, Admiral Roberto Garcia Marquez. The exact amount will only be determined once chemists have finished analyzing the percentage of cocaine to sugar in the 33,450 blocks found in the container.

The sugar came from Valle Del Cauca, the stronghold of the Rastrojos, one of Colombia’s most powerful drug trafficking organizations. The anti-narcotics police believe the drug shipment belongs to Rastrojos boss Luis Enrique Calle Serna, alias "Comba."

The consignment was bound for Veracruz, Mexico’s largest port on the Caribbean. This has traditionally been an area under the influence of the Gulf Cartel or the Zetas, although the Rastrojos have been linked to the Sinaloa Cartel in the past. When $27 million was found in a container in the Colombian port of Buenventura in 2009, on a ship that had arrived from Mexico, police believed it was part of a payment for drugs that the Rastrojos had sent to the Sinaloa Cartel.

This haul is worth an estimated $360 million wholesale in the U.S., and its seizure represents a major blow to the drug trafficking organization behind the shipment. It is also one of the biggest interceptions of drugs in recent years, as traffickers now tend to move smaller shipments and often employ submarines, which are very difficult to detect. The last comparable seizure was in 2008, when 10.5 tons of cocaine were found in the nearby Caribbean port of Barranquilla.

The use of a Caribbean port, away from the Rastrojos' principal area of operations along the Pacific coast, may signal a switch back towards the Atlantic seaboard, or show that the Rastrojos have managed to gain a foothold in Cartagena.

While police in Cartagena were analyzing the cocaine-sugar mix, police at Bogota’s international airport intercepted a Mexican carrying $2.8 million in cash, thought to be a payment for a previous cocaine shipment. The captured man, Jesus Ochoa Lugo, is from the city of Culiacan in Sinaloa, and authorities believe that the money is from the Sinaloa Cartel and its leader Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias "El Chapo."

The Mexican cartels have taken a more prominent role in the regional drug trade over the last ten years. Whereas historically Colombian cartels controlled much of the traffic, from coca plant to street distribution, the Mexicans now have a stranglehold on the trade, at least to the U.S. market. Colombian groups now tend to sell their product to the Mexicans, who are responsible for smuggling it into the U.S.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COCAINE / 9 FEB 2021

Cocaine is a criminal steroid. Those that gain access to its riches enjoy accelerated growth and power – quickly –…

EL MENCHO / 16 APR 2015

Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias "El Mencho," is the leader and founder of the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG), and the man…

COLOMBIA / 18 APR 2011

On April 16, the National Liberation Army (Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional - ELN) released a statement on their website,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…