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 / 4 MAY 2012

The southern Colombian town where FARC guerrillas captured French journalist Romeo Langlois last weekend has a difficult history. La Union…

COLOMBIA / 18 OCT 2012

Colombia arrested seven alleged members of a transnational drug trafficking network, one of whom had links with the man suspected…

COLOMBIA / 13 JUL 2017

Colombia's government has declared an ambitious plan to eradicate 100,000 hectares of coca crops by the end of the year,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…