HomeNewsBriefDrug Lords of Colombia's Pacific Coast Captured in Panama
BRIEF

Drug Lords of Colombia's Pacific Coast Captured in Panama

COLOMBIA / 3 SEP 2014 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Two key players in Colombia's Pacific coast drug trade with links to Buenaventura gang La Empresa have become the latest Colombians to be arrested in Panama, highlighting the country's role as a popular logistical hub for international drug traffickers.

In a joint operation, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Colombian anti-narcotics police arrested the two brothers, Edgar and Ever Bustamante Riascos, in Panama City on charges of sending some three tons of cocaine to Costa Rica, reported El Tiempo.

The brothers are leading members of the Bustamente crime clan, who police say have been involved in trafficking drugs and laundering money in the Colombian port city of Buenaventura since as far back as the 1990s, reported El Pais.

The clan is also believed to have been among the founders and funders of La Empresa (The Business), a Buenaventura criminal operation composed of a coalition of drug traffickers, former paramilitaries, powerful criminals and corrupt businessmen, and once backed by the Rastrojos criminal group.

Since 2012, La Empresa has been involved in a bitter war for control of regional drug trafficking with the narco-paramilitary group the Urabeños, but the fighting has seen several defections and the breaking of old alliances. According to El Pais, the Bustamentes appear to currently be in conflict with La Empresa.

InSight Crime Analysis

InSight Crime field research earlier this year indicated that by far the most popular method for exporting drugs from the region around Buenaventura was in go-fast boats destined either for Costa Rica or Panama, which could explain the Bustamentes' presence in Panama.

However, Panama is not only important for drug traffickers as a transshipment point. Ever since the days of the Medellin Cartel's alliance with former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, the country has also been a key territory for the logistics and finances of the drug trade.

SEE ALSO: Urabeños Profile

As a hub of international commerce, Panama is a popular meeting point for drug suppliers and buyers, who can disappear easily among the throngs of business travelers. It is also a popular money laundering spot due to its dollarized economy, position as a regional center of finance and trade and its lax regulations.

Panama's role in the drug trade has attracted some of the most powerful traffickers and organizations in the business. Just days before the capture of the Bustamentes, authorities arrested demobilized paramilitary-turned-drug trafficker Armando Perez Betancourt, known as "the Monster of Catatumbo," in Panama. Senior figures in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Urabeños, such as Anayibe Rojas Valderrama, alias "Sonia," and Francisco Morelo Peñata, alias "El Negro Sarley," have also been known to operate out of Panama.

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

COCAINE / 25 SEP 2020

Authorities in Panama’s northwestern province of Bocas del Toro have intercepted a string of vessels carrying large amounts of…

COLOMBIA / 23 APR 2021

The Libertadores del Vichada are a splinter group of the Popular Revolutionary Anti-Terrorist Army of Colombia.

COLOMBIA / 22 DEC 2021

Welcome to InSight Crime’s Criminal  GameChangers 2021, where we highlight the most important trends in organized crime in the Americas over the course…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…