HomeNewsBriefColombia Targets New Generation of 'Baby Narcos'
BRIEF

Colombia Targets New Generation of 'Baby Narcos'

COLOMBIA / 13 MAY 2014 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Authorities in Colombia say they are targeting the latest evolution in the country's organized crime world: "baby narcos," or university educated, business savvy young people who use front companies to send cocaine shipments to Europe.

Colombian investigators told El Tiempo in the last six months they had detected 15 drug traffickers fitting this profile, who they also refer to as "mommy's and daddy's narcos."

These young traffickers use their education in business administration, economics, finance and foreign trade to set up legal companies, which they then use to send to send small shipments of cocaine via commercial freight.

The preferred destination is Europe, as the traffickers believe the risk of extradition if they are caught is low, according to investigators. They also do business in Asia, where they launder proceeds by using drug profits to purchase clothes and shoes for import into Colombia.

Although these youth establish connections to the drug trade to source their drugs, they are not associated with large scale criminal groups and are generally unarmed and non-violent, say investigators.

"Baby narcos" have been implicated in several recent cases, including a 110 kilo shipment seized in Belgium's port of Antwerp in April, and a 35 kilo seizure in Bogota, which led to the arrest of a 25-year-old man.

InSight Crime Analysis

While the quantities of cocaine involved suggest "baby narcos" only account for a fraction of the cocaine dispatched from Colombia, the development of a new generation of drug traffickers operating in this way is part of a larger pattern in Colombian organized crime.

Drug trafficking in Colombia has been undergoing a process of fragmentation and decentralization since the breakup of Pablo Escobar's Medellin Cartel and the Cali Cartel in the 1990s. Monolithic cartels no longer exist, and today's traffickers are generally not all-powerful drug lords, but shadowy businessmen and deal brokers who contract organized crime groups such as BACRIM (from the Spanish abbreviation of "criminal bands") to provide services such as security, shipment and debt collection.

SEE ALSO: The Victory of the Urabeños: The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The "baby narcos" seem to have taken this a step further by attempting to work almost entirely within the legal economy and minimize contact with the risky, violent world of major drug trafficking.

Improvements in Colombian anti-narcotics operations have substantially reduced the lifespan of a major drug lord, so this low profile approach may look increasingly appealing, especially to a new generation of educated traffickers. However, the logistical limitations of working in this way reduce the profits on offer, making it unlikely this will become the dominant Colombian trafficking model.

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

COLOMBIA / 8 APR 2014

The government in Colombia is to strengthen customs controls on its borders in an attempt to tackle widespread contraband smuggling…

COLOMBIA / 14 DEC 2018

The city of Cali in Colombia is on track to see a drop in homicides for the fifth straight year,…

COLOMBIA / 28 JUN 2021

After three decades of living in the shadows, Guillermo Acevedo has been caught. Our Co-director, Jeremy McDermott reveals how it…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…