A Colombian police operation aimed at tackling micro-trafficking across the country will be extended for 60 days to take down 25 more cells, President Santos has announced, though police are fighting an uphill battle to bring the phenomenon under control.
Following an announcement by Police Chief Jose Roberto Leon Riaño that police had eradicated 92 percent of the targets identified at the start of the operation two months ago, President Juan Manuel Santos ordered national police to extend the operation to shut down a further 25 street-level drug sales points around the country.
The police chief stated that police had so far conducted 314 raids in which they confiscated 780,067 doses of illicit drugs and arrested 1,641 people, among them 42 members of the leadership of micro-trafficking networks, reported El Tiempo.
The initial two-month operation, labeled "Plan Green Heart," began in early April with the goal of closing down 24 cells across 20 cities, as part of a war on micro-trafficking.
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An estimated one-fifth of Colombian cocaine and 70 percent of marijuana is now sold domestically, according to police. Micro-trafficking has become a major source of income for Colombian drug traffickers and is considered one of three principal security threats by the government. In Colombia, the distribution points, or "ollas" (pots), where drugs are sold are controlled by street gangs and "mini-cartels," some with international connections. Drugs are often sold to these groups by larger drug trafficking organizations, such as the Urabeños or the Rastrojos.
Despite the claimed successes of the initiative thus far, police say they have information on over 3,000 more distribution points across the country. In addition, the strategy of targeting these sales points raises the possibility of operations simply migrating elsewhere -- popularly known as the "cockroach effect" -- unless the government manages to simultaneously shut down the whole supply chain.
Colombia's case is just one Latin American country that has seen surges in domestic trafficking in recent years. Others include Mexico, Brazil and the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.