HomeNewsBriefVenezuela Blames Sinaloa Cartel for Air France Cocaine Shipment
BRIEF

Venezuela Blames Sinaloa Cartel for Air France Cocaine Shipment

SINALOA CARTEL / 1 SEP 2014 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Officials in Venezuela have claimed that last year's record cocaine seizure from an Air France flight out of Caracas belonged to Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, in a statement that -- whether accurate or not -- appears designed to deflect attention away from the Venezuelan security forces.

In his testimony to the special congressional committee set up to investigate last year's Air France trafficking scandal, former Venezuelan anti-drugs chief Brigadier General Alejandro Kerelis said the 1.3 ton cocaine shipment was sent by Sinaloa operatives trying out a new route to Europe, reported El Nacional.

After nearly a year of investigations, the commission has yet to produce a report. One of its members, Ricardo Sanchez, said the body is currently examining two theories, according to El Universal. The first is that the drugs were seized as part of an undercover operation, the second is that the seizure is a "false positive" -- in the sense that the drugs existed but never passed through Venezuela. According to Sanchez, they have received no evidence proving the drugs came off the flight from Venezuela.

According to El Universal, Venezuelan investigators in the case complained the process had been hampered by a lack of information from French officials, who, they claimed, have offered no details on the luggage used or how the shipment was discovered and seized.

InSight Crime Analysis

The claim that a Mexican cartel was behind the now-notorious September 2013 Air France shipment is certainly plausible.

In the past, Colombian traffickers controlled routes through Venezuela, paying off corrupt Venezuelan security officials along the way. However, those corrupt officials began organizing their own networks to take a bigger cut of profits, becoming what is popularly known as the Cartel de los Soles (Cartel of the Suns), a drug trafficking network of powerful high-ranking military officials. There is evidence to suggest that part of this process involved reaching out to Mexican groups.

SEE ALSO: Cartel of the Suns Profile

However, accurate or not, blaming the shipment on the arguably the biggest and certainly the most famous Latin American drug trafficking operation of them all, the Sinaloa Cartel, makes for a convenient distraction from the role of Venezuela's military, which manages airport security, and the Cartel of the Suns.

The theories expressed by the commission also suggest obfuscation. The idea that the drugs did not come from Venezuela is not credible -- not only would this involve remarkable dishonesty from the French officials, it would also ignore evidence the commission has examined, which included x-rays of the packages taken in Venezuela.

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

ILLEGAL MINING / 26 JAN 2023

The R Organization is one of Venezuela's fastest growing mining gangs, which are often referred to as sindicatos.

ARGENTINA / 1 FEB 2022

In 2021, most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean experienced a marked increase in murders. Resurgent violence was to…

ELITES AND CRIME / 7 SEP 2021

A court in Cabo Verde has approved the extradition to the United States of Colombian businessman Álex Saab, who may…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…