HomeNewsBriefAre More Seizures and Crops Sign of Colombia Heroin Revival?
BRIEF

Are More Seizures and Crops Sign of Colombia Heroin Revival?

COLOMBIA / 25 AUG 2015 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

The seizure of a heroin shipment linked to Colombia’s most powerful criminal group, the Urabeños, has called attention to a once declining criminal trade that appears to be now growing despite competition from Mexican cartels.

Anti-narcotics police seized the 16.6 kilos of heroin while checking vehicles in the western province of Valle del Cauca, reported El Pais.

Regional police commander General Rodrigo Gonzalez Herrera told El Pais the shipment, which was worth approximately $87,000, was being trafficked by a cell of drug traffickers allied to the Urabeños and was destined for Panama.

This, police said, is common practice in the heroin trade, where small cells of specialist heroin traffickers utilize the international contacts, trafficking networks, and muscle of the Urabeños to ensure safe passage as they traffic shipments by “mule” to Panama. From there, the drugs are moved on to the United States or Europe.

Authorities believe the heroin originated in the southern province of Cauca, which is the epicenter of Colombian heroin production, accounting for over half the country’s poppy cultivation in 2014, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (pdf).

InSight Crime Analysis

At the turn of the century, Colombia dominated the regional heroin market, with over three times more hectares of poppy crops than Mexico, its nearest competitor, according to the UNODC. Not only did Colombia have greater production, it also had a superior product, with the purity of the white powder heroin produced in Colombia far higher than the “black tar” heroin processed in Mexico.

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

This began to change in 2001. Since then, cultivation in Colombia has fallen by 94 percent, while in Mexico it increased by 532 percent between 2001 and 2011, according to the UNODC. In addition, US authorities believe Mexican cartels are now producing higher quality white heroin, competing on quality as well as quantity.

However, the recent seizure is a reminder that Colombia heroin continues to be a player in the regional heroin market — and may even be undergoing a minor revival. Between 2013 and 2014, cultivation rose nearly 30 percent, the UNODC’s latest report stated, while Colombian authorities have already seized 257kg so far this year, compared to 349kg in all of last year (pdf).

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 9 NOV 2011

In what is becoming an increasing trend, Colombia authorities discovered a cocaine-processing laboratory in the eastern plains of the country,…

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation…

HEROIN / 12 FEB 2015

Mexican cartels are flooding the United States with heroin and opiates to keep pace with rising demand. InSight Crime takes a…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…