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

BOLIVIA / 4 MAR 2011

Large discrepancies in coca cultivation figures cited by the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the U.S.

COLOMBIA / 10 JAN 2012

The Urabeños drug gang, whose leader was killed in a raid on January 1, have reportedly launched a plan to…

COLOMBIA / 16 JAN 2018

Recent actions by Colombia’s army against the country’s largest active guerrilla group indicate that the government may be using military…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…