HomeNewsBriefColombia Seizing Over $300,000 of Contraband a Day
BRIEF

Colombia Seizing Over $300,000 of Contraband a Day

COLOMBIA / 5 FEB 2014 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

In just the first 20 days of January 2014, Colombia's tax and customs police (Polfa) seized nearly $6.5 million in contraband products. The most commonly smuggled items were clothes, shoes and food, raising questions about who is behind the bulk of this trade.

Textiles make up the bulk of seizures made in Colombia -- over $30 million in textiles were seized in 2013, representing 46 percent of all goods. These are followed by food, shoes, perfume and motor vehicles, reported Portafolio.

The trade poses a major financial problem for domestic businesses, which are unable to compete with the extremely low prices of contraband goods.

General Jorge Hernando Nieto, director of citizen security for the national police, said his unit will be prioritizing the issue of contraband in the coming year. This, he said, will allow them to "simultaneously combat connected crimes, such as money laundering, drug trafficking, extortion, and the wealth of illegal groups."

InSight Crime Analysis

The daily seizure average, if maintained throughout the year, would equal approximately $118 million in goods by the end of 2014. This is just a fraction of the annual market worth of the trade, estimated at around $6 billion. According to the Financial Analysis and Information Unit (UIAF), this represents 1.7 percent of Colombia's annual gross domestic product (GDP).

Venezuela is a major source of this trade, with up to 40 percent of items imported into the country later smuggled into Colombia, according to the Venezuelan government. Venezuelan gasoline, and liquor and cigarettes from duty free zones in places like Colon, Panama are some of the most often cited products in Colombia's contraband market. These are thought to be largely controlled by criminal groups like the Urabeños and the Rastrojos, who use the trade to launder drug money. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Money Laundering

Given this, it is interesting such a high percentage of contraband seizures are attributed to clothing and shoes -- not products usually associated with Colombia's criminal groups. One Polfa official said the majority of these contraband products come from China, meaning the smuggling method would also be different.

If the seizures are representative of the overall market, it raises the question of who is controlling this lucrative clothing trade. It is also plausible, however, that these items are more commonly seized because the larger criminal groups controlling gasoline and alcohol have more sophisticated smuggling structures and networks of corruption facilitating their passage.

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

COLOMBIA / 22 DEC 2022

InSight Crime's GameChangers 2022 looks back at the most consequential criminal stories across Latin America this year.

COLOMBIA / 11 JAN 2022

The 10th Front of the FARC dissidence isn’t letting up. After simultaneously heading off multiple enemies on Venezuelan soil, the…

COLOMBIA / 2 FEB 2022

Venezuela’s oil industry is beginning to make a muted recovery and the country’s black markets are reacting fast, with domestic…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…