HomeNewsBriefColombia On Track for New Asset Seizure Record
BRIEF

Colombia On Track for New Asset Seizure Record

COLOMBIA / 25 FEB 2015 BY LOREN RIESENFELD EN

Colombia has seized over $440 million in the first two months of 2015 as part of an aggressive program to confiscate criminal assets, putting the country on track for another year of record high seizures.

Between January 1 and February 23 this year, Colombian authorities confiscated 145 assets valued at more than $442 million dollars, reported El Tiempo. If seizures continue at the current pace, Colombia will surpass the record $1.4 billion in assets seized in 2014. 

Examples of recent seizures include a more than 700-hectare plot of land in Cartagena connected to the Norte del Valle Cartel (NDVC), worth around $4 million dollars, and a luxury home that belonged to Eugenio Montoya Sanchez, the brother of former NDVC faction leader Diego Montoya Sanchez, alias "Don Diego." 

Drug traffickers aren't the only ones affected by the seizures. Colombian authorities have also targeted assets belonging to an extortion gang in Medellin, former government officials, and a "meat cartel" that allegedly smuggled 4,000 cattle across the border from Venezuela.

The effort to prioritize seizures has also led to the creation of a special intelligence unit in the Attorney General's Office dedicated to tracing assets from guerrilla groups the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN).

InSight Crime Analysis

The increase in confiscated assets may be the result of changes to Colombia's property seizure law, which were approved in January 2014. Last September, former Vice Prosecutor General Wilson Martinez told InSight Crime the new rules could enable authorities to cut the time it takes to complete a seizure in half. The legal changes also allow authorities to more easily take assets from suspected criminals who have not yet been convicted.

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

Still, previous failures have tarnished the reputation of a law once touted by former President Alvaro Uribe as one of the country's "most-feared" anti-narcotics tools. After a scandal in which billions of dollars in seized assets went missing, the National Narcotics Directorate (DNE) -- the agency responsible for managing confiscated assets -- was officially dissolved last year and replaced by the Special Assets Association (SAE).

In addition, in spite of record high seizures in 2014, Colombian authorities still only seizes a fraction of the country's criminal assets. Previous estimates indicate that Colombia confiscates 3 percent or less of yearly criminal earnings. The government has also failed to collect close to $3.4 billion in outstanding fines leveled against drug traffickers, guerrilla groups, and paramilitaries.

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.

Tags

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

ARGENTINA / 5 MAR 2020

In a year marked by political and criminal turmoil, Latin American capitals did not escape the effects of the violence,…

COLOMBIA / 26 OCT 2012

With the FARC seemingly deepening their involvement in illegal mining, InSight Crime takes a look at what could…

COLOMBIA / 17 OCT 2016

Authorities in Peru are warning about the involvement of Colombian crime groups in loan sharking, suggesting these organizations are expanding…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

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.