HomeNewsBriefA Quarter of Gasoline Sold in Colombia Is Used for Cocaine
BRIEF

A Quarter of Gasoline Sold in Colombia Is Used for Cocaine

COCA / 3 JUN 2019 BY LARA LOAIZA EN

Rural gas stations in Colombia are allegedly selling vast quantities of fuel to criminal groups to be used in coca paste processing, with as much as 28 percent of the country's gasoline potentially going to organized crime.

The Attorney General’s Office announced it is investigating 33 gas stations in areas known for the production of coca paste after the sales reported by these stations were shown to be suspiciously high for local demand.

Since the announcement, the government has mulled issuing a resolution that would increase regulations on these establishments and help to prevent irregular sales of gasoline.

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profile

One gas station in Riosucio, in the department of Chocó, reported sales of 1.2 million gallons of fuel in a town whose population is only 20,000. The gas stations under investigation are all located far away from major urban centers and many are in areas with no paved roads -- the same settings where armed actors and coca crops are present.

The Attorney General’s Office is also investigating money laundering and embezzlement of state funds involving these gas stations. Gas stations located in remote, rural areas are eligible to receive tax relief and exemption from tariffs. Twelve of the 33 stations under investigation are eligible to receive the subsidies, which amount to about 1,476 million pesos (approximately US$450 million) per year.

Allegations that criminal groups are buying up fuel are not new. Last February, authorities declared some 1,000 gas stations to be involved in such sales. Of the 250 million gallons of gasoline sold in Colombia in 2018, as much as 70 million, or 28 percent, went to the production of cocaine, authorities said.

InSight Crime Analysis

The illegal sale of fuel for the processing of coca leaves in Colombia has been a persistent issue. Authorities have tried to crack down on the practice, but their efforts are increasingly made more difficult as cocaine production in Colombia continues to reach record highs.

Of the 5,439 gasloline stations in the country, 1,249 are located in the municipalities with high coca cultivation. The southwestern department of Nariño has seen 302 gas stations opened in the last two years, according to the Ministry of Mines and Energy, with five of the new targets being located there.

Additionally, in border departments such as Norte de Santander and Nariño, state subsidies of gasoline may well be financing coca production.

SEE ALSO: New Criminal Group Runs Fuel Smuggling at Colombia-Venezuela Border

The rise of fuel smuggling from Venezuela has also put a dent in the fuel sales at local stations, such as those in Norte de Santander, a smuggling hub. Much of the contraband fuel from Venezuela is also destined for coca paste processing.

But Colombia’s new strategy to combat this practice shows promise. The use of more complete data sets tracking atypical sales at gas stations was what flagged these  transgressors. Likewise, the government responded quickly with new regulations, showing that they are taking the problem seriously. Nonetheless, only a small percentage of gas stations profiting from the illegal sale of fuel have been identified so far.

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.

Tags

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 / 16 DEC 2013

In the slums of Medellin, Colombia, adolescent girls have become the spoils of war and merchandise for criminal gangs; they…

COLOMBIA / 28 NOV 2011

More than 90 percent of those who are arrested in Bogota, Colombia, avoid prison sentences due to a system…

COLOMBIA / 24 OCT 2011

The Colombian Army has captured a leader of FARC's 10th Front, presumed responsible for an attack using improvised explosive…

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…