HomeNewsBriefMajor Colombia Bust Latest Example of Italy Mafia Presence
BRIEF

Major Colombia Bust Latest Example of Italy Mafia Presence

COLOMBIA / 16 MAY 2014 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

A Spanish citizen belonging to Italy's 'Ndrangheta mafia has been arrested and four tons of cocaine seized in Colombia, in the latest illustration of the Italian organized crime group's presence in Latin America.

Hermenegildo Ventura Casan, who was arrested in the Atlantic port city of Cartagena on May 15, reportedly served as a link between the European criminal group and the Medellin-based Oficina de Envigado. According to a press release from the Colombian national police (pdf), he oversaw an international drug trafficking network that used Cartagena as the departure point for a route passing through Panama, Costa Rica, Spain and Italy.

According to the release, the drugs were smuggled in containers with recyclable and industrial raw materials, which were shipped with documentation from false export businesses.

Among Ventura's alleged contacts within the Oficina were the extradited leader of the group, Diego Fernando Murillo, alias "Don Berna," and other key leaders. The 52-year-old Spaniard is also believed to have maintained contacts within Colombia's dominant criminal group, the Urabeños.

Ventura's arrest comes after international police body Interpol issued a "red notice" (international arrest warrant) for the Spaniard, who is also being investigated by authorities in the United States. He is currently being held in capital Bogota, awaiting extradition to Spain. Fourteen other people were captured during the operation.

InSight Crime Analysis

Italy's 'Ndrangheta, which is thought to control 80 percent of the cocaine entering Italy, has shown signs of a resurgence in Latin America in recent years. As well as being active in Colombia, they reportedly receive cocaine supplies from Mexico's Zetas and are known to have established a trafficking route between Guyana and the United States.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of European Organized Crime

The arrest of Ventura comes only weeks after authorities in the Dominican Republic captured another 'Ndrangheta mobster who was reportedly working on establishing a new drug trafficking route through the Caribbean. 

According to international intelligence agencies consulted by InSight Crime, the Spanish city of Barcelona has now become a central negotiating point between Colombian and European mafias, which may explain Casan's Spanish origins and reported integration into the Italian group, despite the importance of blood ties. The use of a non-Italian middleman could also be intended to lower the profile of the 'Ndrangheta's activities in the region.

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 / 2 MAY 2017

The arrest in Venezuela of alleged ELN members is a reminder of the value of the neighboring nation as a…

COCAINE / 3 FEB 2022

Central American countries seized a record amount of drugs last year, underscoring how the region has become one of the…

COLOMBIA / 31 MAY 2011

Two mayoral candidates were abducted and murdered in northern Colombia in an attack attributed to the FARC guerrilla group, providing…

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…