HomeNewsBriefSpain Arrests, Drug Seizures Signal Colombia Cocaine Boom Could Hit Europe
BRIEF

Spain Arrests, Drug Seizures Signal Colombia Cocaine Boom Could Hit Europe

COLOMBIA / 9 MAR 2017 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

Authorities in Spain seized over one ton of cocaine from a Colombian drug trafficking network and arrested dozens of its members, a potential sign that the surge in Colombia's cocaine production is altering trafficking patterns in yet another part of the world. 

Spain's National Police captured 24 members of a Colombian drug trafficking group that was seeking to establish a new maritime route into Spain, reported EFE. The operation, which was carried out last weekend, also reportedly netted a seizure of 2,400 kilograms of cocaine.

"It is one of the most important operations against cocaine trafficking that has been carried out in Spain in recent years, not just because of the large quantity of drugs, but because of the number of people detained, some of whom are very important in international cocaine trafficking," said Ricardo Toro, the Director of the Special Response Group for Organized Crime.

"If [the authorities] hadn't triumphed with their operation, they probably would have installed themselves here, in Galicia and in other parts of Spain," Toro continued.

The investigation began in June 2016, according to EFE, when Spanish authorities identified a known Colombian drug trafficker who was attempting to open a permanent "oficina," or office, in Madrid. 

More recently, the Spanish Civil Guard arrested 12 alleged members of a drug trafficking ring in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, a city in one of the Canary Islands off the northwestern coast of Africa. Most of the suspects are of Colombian, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian nationality, and are allegedly responsible for smuggling close to 400 kilograms of cocaine into Europe, EFE reported separately. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The raid of a Colombian drug ring in Spain is not exactly revelatory; the country has long served as the entry point for Colombian traffickers seeking a way into the lucrative European drug market. In 2014, Spanish police told InSight Crime that Colombians had set up between 12 and 20 "oficinas de cobro," which are criminal structures that are often involved in drug trafficking and money laundering. 

Still, the amount of cocaine seized and the number of Colombians involved suggests Spain may be beginning to feel the effects of spiking cocaine production back in Colombia. Both the United Nations and the United States have registered significant increases in coca cultivation in recent years, and US officials recently told El Tiempo they believe there is now more coca being sown in Colombian soil than at any other point in the country's history. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Cocaine Production

There are already indications that the huge rise in cocaine production has impacted trafficking patterns in Latin America and consumption habits in the United States. A recent report by the US State Department linked Colombia's cocaine boom to greater availability and usage of the drug in the United States, something that hasn't been seen in nearly a decade. Seizures are also on the upswing in Central America and Mexico, as are confiscations of multi-ton cocaine shipments, which had become increasingly rare in recent years.

But with the amount of cocaine now flooding the market, it appears traffickers are willing to take bigger risks by sending larger shipments to more profitable markets like the United States and Europe. 

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 / 3 MAR 2021

Illegal loggers and land grabbers in Colombia have begun clearing small, isolated patches of forest to avoid being spotted from…

COCAINE / 2 MAY 2022

One of the first Balkan cocaine traffickers to ever establish a presence in South America and forge criminal alliances between…

BRAZIL / 18 JUN 2021

Ongoing seizures of cocaine trafficked from Brazil to Mozambique continue to highlight the robust drug route between the two former…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…