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.

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.

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 31 AUG 2012

Colombia sentenced 43 demobilized members of the ERPAC neo-paramilitary group to over four years in prison, adding to concerns that…

COLOMBIA / 23 DEC 2010

A U.S. government cable from Madrid, Spain, released by the whistle-blower site WikiLeaks and republished by InSight, says…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 9 SEP 2011

The Venezuelan government has distanced itself from Colombia's FARC rebels in recent months, but its response to the U.S.'s naming…

Institutional Content

THE ORGANIZATION

Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …