HomeNewsBriefRising Seizures along Pacific Signal Shift in Colombia’s Drug Routes
BRIEF

Rising Seizures along Pacific Signal Shift in Colombia’s Drug Routes

COLOMBIA / 2 JUN 2016 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

Drug seizures along Colombia’s Pacific coast have shot up this year, indicating a possible shift in internal drug trafficking routes as security crackdowns and peace negotiations reshape the country’s underworld.

Between January and May 2016, authorities seized 34 tons of drugs — worth around $1 billion — in Colombia’s Pacific region, according to official figures reported by Colprensa. Seizures have reportedly increased by 65 percent compared to the same time period last year.

Local marines were responsible for seizing 15 tons, up from the 6.1 tons they confiscated during the first five months of 2015, Commander of the Pacific Naval Force Pablo Guevara said. 

The remaining drugs were reportedly seized with the collaboration of other countries, including the United States. The Urabeños criminal organization are among those hardest hit by the interdiction operations in the Pacific, according to authorities.

SEE ALSO:  Urabeños News and Profile

The Navy attributed the increase in seizures to improved intelligence and training, while recognizing that a rise in drug crops in the area was also a factor.

“There has been an increase in illicit cultivations in [the department of] Putumayo and the Pacific, due to suspended aerial fumigation and manual eradication,” Guevara said.

Five semi-submersibles, also known as “narco-submarines,” were discovered in the Pacific region over the same time period. According to Mexico’s El Universal, a total of seven semi-submersibles have been taken out of circulation so far this year in Colombia, all of which belonged to the Urabeños.

InSight Crime Analysis

Although the increasing efficiency of interdiction efforts along the Pacific may partly explain the rise in seizures, this trend is more likely the result of a phenomenon known as the “balloon effect” in which criminal groups migrate from one area to another as a result of increased pressure from the authorities. 

Colombia’s largest drug trafficking organization, the Urabeños, have come under intense pressure in their traditional stronghold of Urabá on the Caribbean coast. In February 2015, the government launched “Operation Agamemnon” and deployed over a thousand troops to the group’s main drug trafficking hub. 

As a result, the Urabeños have shifted some of their drug operations southwest to the Pacific coast. But this has brought them into conflict with armed groups already established in the region.

16-06-07InSightCrimeMapf

In just the Pacific department of Chocó — where a number of the most recent cocaine seizures have taken place — there are several active fronts of the country’s two principal guerrilla groups, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) and the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN). The region has already seen clashes between the Urabeños and the ELN, which have led to the displacement of thousands of locals.

In Nariño, too, drug trafficking organizations have been fighting the FARC, who control the drug trade in the department. Nariño is one of the biggest coca producers in the country and a key departure point for drugs heading to the United States. According to Diálogo, Nariño’s Sanquianga Park is the most popular launching pad for Colombia’s narco-submarines.

There have also been reports of clashes between the ELN and criminal bands, or “BACRIM,” in the Pacific department of Cauca.

Compartir icon icon icon

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 / 4 DEC 2020

A number of Latin America’s leading academics, investigative journalists and security experts gathered virtually December 3 to discuss the most…

COLOMBIA / 27 OCT 2016

Peace talks between the government of Colombia and the country's second-largest guerrilla group have been delayed again after the rebels…

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…

About InSight Crime

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. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…