HomeNewsBriefColombia's 'War on Contraband Fuel' Highlights Lucrative Trade
BRIEF

Colombia's 'War on Contraband Fuel' Highlights Lucrative Trade

COLOMBIA / 22 NOV 2013 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

Authorities in Colombia have seized 34,000 gallons of contraband fuel and arrested 30 suspects, in a series of operations highlighting the extent of a lucrative illicit trade fed largely by illegal Venezuelan imports.

The seizures took place in various departments of Colombia, the majority concentrated near the Venezuelan border. According to General Gustavo Moreno Maldonado, director of the tax and customs police, the majority of illegal border crossings used by fuel traffickers are concentrated in three departments: La Guajira (192 crossings) and Norte de Santander (48) in the northeast of the country, and Nariño (28) in the southwest, near the Ecuador border, reported EFE.

Moreno cited the town of La Paz in the northeastern department of Cesar as a place where "nearly the entire population has learned to live from this illegal economy."

Moreno said fuel is often transported in hidden plastic containers on public buses, and that children are also used to transport the contraband product. According to Moreno, authorities have "declared war on contraband fuel," which is controlled largely by criminal groups such as the Urabeños.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Urabeños

This year, authorities have seized 256,436 gallons of fuel and arrested 106 people in connection with the illicit trade.

InSight Crime Analysis

Colombia's problem with contraband fuel is driven by high domestic prices, which stand in stark contrast to neighboring countries. Both Venezuela to the northeast and Ecuador to the southwest implement subsidies that keep gas prices low, at about $1.10 a gallon in Ecuador and as little as 18 cents a gallon in Venezuela. In Colombia, gasoline is sold for around $4.72 a gallon.

Fuel is not the only illegal product flooding Colombia and Moreno said in June that Colombia's contraband trade is worth $6 billion a year and is facilitated by inadequate inspections. La Guajira is also a major point of entry for black market products including liquor and cigarettes.

The Urabeños are just one of the major criminal organization responsible, with the Rastrojos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) also deeply involved the trade.

The contraband fuel trade is a major problem region wide, with fuel illegally moved from Ecuador to Peru worth about $40 million a year, and illegally imported fuel from Venezuela costing Honduras about $230 million each 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

COLOMBIA / 25 MAY 2018

Colombian officials have released new estimates of the number of former guerrillas murdered since peace accord implementation began, highlighting the…

COLOMBIA / 12 SEP 2012

Colombian authorities detained 14 alleged members of one of the country's lesser known drug trafficking networks, run by a former…

COLOMBIA / 12 JUL 2011

Colombian authorities have captured 29 suspected members of neo-paramilitary criminal gang the Urabeños, one of the country’s most…

About InSight Crime

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…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…