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.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

ARGENTINA / 22 JUN 2018

The use of World Cup merchandise to smuggle cocaine around the world points to a longstanding relationship between drug trafficking…

KNIGHTS TEMPLAR / 20 JUN 2011

Twenty-three people were killed in the Mexican state of Michoacan in one weekend, as the split between different leaders of…

MEXICO / 18 MAR 2013

A decline in cocaine seizures since 2006 is evidence of Mexico's decreased importance as a transit country for drug shipments,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…