HomeNewsBriefColombians Use Chemical Expertise to Move Cocaine into Spain
BRIEF

Colombians Use Chemical Expertise to Move Cocaine into Spain

COLOMBIA / 5 DEC 2014 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Police in Spain have dismantled a multinational drug trafficking network led by Colombians that is the latest example of how traffickers use sophisticated chemical processes to disguise cocaine shipments.

In raids in five Spanish provinces police arrested five Spaniards, five Colombians, a Nigerian and a Peruvian. They also seized 229 kilos of cocaine, along with arms, chemicals and lab equipment.

The network was allegedly moving cocaine into Spain disguised in palm kernel meal, a brownish powder used in animal feed. Police say the group, which authorities said was led by a Colombian national and had operatives based in Spain, brought a Colombian chemist into the country specifically for the extraction process.

The operation was the culmination of an investigation that began in 2013 after Colombian and US investigators tipped off the Spanish authorities over the operations of Colombian traffickers in the country.

InSight Crime Analysis

Spanish local media suggest the network was processing coca base into cocaine. But it appears the chemicals and lab equipment were employed to extract the powdered cocaine hydrochloride from the palm kernel meal the traffickers used to disguise the drugs.

Such sophisticated methods of disguising cocaine are becoming ever more apparent, with this case following the seizure of nearly three tons of cocaine disguised in oil used for electrical transformers in the Colombian port of Cartagena earlier this year.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of European Organized Crime

As in this case, this often involves exporting knowledge as well as drugs. In Bolivia, for example, where Colombians run many of the cocaine processing and trafficking operations, underworld sources have told InSight Crime that one of the most popular trafficking techniques is now to spray liquid cocaine onto clothes.

The case is also a reminder of the growing influence in Spain of Colombian networks, which appear to retain control over the market despite the widely reported incursion of Mexican groups.

Sources in the Spanish police have told InSight Crime that the Colombians control the cocaine trade in the country and that there are between 12 and 20 of the Colombian criminal structures known as “oficinas de cobro” (“collection offices,” which act as unofficial arbiters of the underworld) active in the country. Police also said they are braced for the Colombian presence to increase further when visa restrictions are eased next year.

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

COLOMBIA / 7 OCT 2014

A struggle for control over sales of synthetic drug 2CB led to the massacre of eight people in Colombia's third-largest…

BARRIO AZTECA / 13 OCT 2014

A series of reports highlights growing ties between US gangs and Mexican drug cartels, and the corruption north of the…

COLOMBIA / 8 MAR 2011

Following the discovery in February of Colombia’s first fully submersible “narco-submarine,” built by drug cartels to ship cocaine…

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…