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.

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

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 15 FEB 2018

In our February 15 Facebook Live session, Co-Director Steven Dudley, Senior Investigator Héctor Silva Ávalos and Senior Editor Mike LaSusa…

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 5 MAY 2016

El Salvador officials have warned of gang members fleeing into neighboring countries to escape the pressure of security forces. But…

COLOMBIA / 24 JUN 2021

The retirement of the ELN's top commander and political leader may have sweeping implications for the guerrilla group as it…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…