HomeNewsLiquid Cocaine - a Rising Trend Among Colombia's Traffickers
NEWS

Liquid Cocaine - a Rising Trend Among Colombia's Traffickers

COCAINE / 9 FEB 2022 BY MARIA FERNANDA RAMIREZ EN

As Colombian traffickers and police continually try to outfox each other, liquid cocaine has returned to the fore as an increasingly popular drug smuggling method.

On February 5, Colombian police seized around 3.5 tons of cocaine at the northern port of Cartagena. This was the fifth seizure of liquid cocaine since November 2021 and came just one week after the discovery of nearly 20,000 coconuts filled with liquid cocaine, also found in the port of Cartagena and bound for Italy.

In the latest seizure, the cocaine had been dissolved and mixed in two shipments, one of organic fertilizer and the other of molasses extracted from sugar cane. Both shipments came from Urabá, a region in northwestern Colombia, and authorities said they were destined for the ports of Valencia, Spain, and Veracruz, Mexico.

SEE ALSO: Container Shipping: Cocaine Hide and Seek

At a press conference, General Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia, head of Colombia’s national police, declared that while the case is still being investigated, the liquid cocaine shipments may have been planned by the Urabeños, also known as the Gulf Clan.

“Looking at the documents, [the cocaine] could be related to some of the companies that are being investigated for belonging to the Gulf Clan,” Vargas said.

Liquid cocaine was first reported in 2011 when just 13 kilograms were seized in the Bolivian department of Santa Cruz, on the border with Brazil and Paraguay. However, according to El Heraldo, citing police sources, this technique was likely used for some time previously in Colombia without being detected.

InSight Crime Analysis

The recent seizures of liquid cocaine suggest that criminal organizations have once again resorted to this modality to try and stay one step ahead of authorities in the cocaine hide-and-seek game.

As port controls become stricter, with ever more significant quantities of cocaine being seized in Latin America and Europe, criminal networks are needing to innovate. A report by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) stated that liquid cocaine is almost imperceptible by scanners installed in ports or airports.

SEE ALSO: Liquid Cocaine: Bolivia’s Undetectable Drug

The production of liquid cocaine involves dissolving cocaine in water, solvents or other products containing chemical compounds such as mannitol, glucose, cellulose or lactose. It is then placed inside products such as shampoo bottles or hidden among sugar cane molasses, making it easier for them to be trafficked in containers or carried by drug mules.

Liquid cocaine is far more difficult to detect than powdered cocaine because of these methods since it is dissolved into substances that cover up its smell, according to Luis Fernando Trejos, a professor at Universidad del Norte.

He told InSight Crime that liquid cocaine was not previously a popular option for traffickers, since bringing it back to its original state involves a decanting process in which around 10 percent of the product can be lost.  

“But this is a risk that drug traffickers are willing to take today to circumvent controls and ensure that the product reaches its destination,” said Trejos.

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

COCA / 28 OCT 2019

A recent report on child labor in the municipality of Tumaco has shed light on why children and young people…

COLOMBIA / 9 MAY 2013

The president of Colombia's Liberal Party has accused disgraced brokerage firm Interbolsa of laundering money for drug traffickers, guerrillas, and…

COLOMBIA / 7 DEC 2015

Authorities in Colombia have dismantled a network of illegal mining operators allegedly working for drug trafficking group the Urabeños, providing…

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…