HomeNewsBriefColombia to Mexico Precursor Operation Dismantled
BRIEF

Colombia to Mexico Precursor Operation Dismantled

COLOMBIA / 3 OCT 2013 BY CHARLES PARKINSON EN

Authorities in Colombia have dismantled an organization dedicated to providing precursor chemicals to Mexican cartels, illustrating how tightening restrictions on chemical sales in one country can lead to growth of the criminal trade in another. 

Colombia's Police Narcotics Division arrested six people in swoops in the cities of Bogota, Armenia and Bello, after an operation importing the chemicals ephedrine and pseudoephedrine from China, India, Germany and Russia was uncovered during a three-year investigation, reported El Espectador.

The group used a factory in Bogota -- ostensibly producing flu and cold remedies -- as a front for the importation of the chemicals, which were then sent on to Mexico via Central America, reported La Nacion. There, they were used for the production of methamphetamine destined for sale in the United States.

The group's alleged leader and the owner of two front companies used to carry out the crime, Francisco Antonio Lugo Torres, was one of the six arrested, reported Semana. According to the reports, Lugo became involved in the trade sometime during 2009 or 2010, after being contacted by a Mexican criminal group. The chemicals were sent on to Central America hidden inside shipments of vitamins and neck pillows.

InSight Crime Analysis

Mexican cartels are the main producers and distributors of methamphetamine in Latin America, and it is a business they appear to be expanding -- according to the State Department 2013 International Narcotics Strategy Report, discoveries of meth labs in Mexico have been increasing, with 267 uncovered in 2012, compared to 227 in 2011. 

However, this expansion has been hampered by legislation regulating the sale and movement of precursor chemicals, especially pseudoephedrine, which since 2008 has been tightly controlled within Mexico. This has forced groups to look for new ways to acquire the chemical or new ways to synthesize meth

China is a major source of the chemicals and Mexican authorities have continued to interdict massive shipments in recent years, despite the regulations. Cartels have also shifted precursor sourcing and meth production in part to Central America, where regulation and oversight is looser.

In Colombia, the fight against precursor chemicals has historically focused on the importation of substances used to process coca leaves into cocaine, leaving room for the growth of operations exporting meth precursors, such as the one recently dismantled. The case was the first time authorities have uncovered a network dedicated to meth precursors in Colombia, according to the police antinarcotics director Ricardo Alberto Restrepo Londoño.

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

COCAINE / 2 MAR 2021

With higher profits and lower risks than the United States, Europe has emerged recently as arguably the most important cocaine…

COLOMBIA / 30 APR 2021

An investigation into an expansive money laundering scheme in Colombia has revealed how black-market brokers cultivate networks of front-companies and…

AUC / 30 AUG 2021

Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was the pioneer in industrial-scale cocaine trafficking.

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…