Mexican criminal organizations, such as the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel (CJNG), are increasing their presence in areas of Colombia where coca leaf is processed.
In recent years, the cartels have sent agronomists to improve the technique of coca leaf cultivation and increase the productivity of the plants, according to the Colombian Attorney General’s Office leading to 80 arrests of Mexican nationals for drug trafficking crimes.
From January and July 2022, the Criminal Investigation and Interpol Directorate of the National Police (DIJIN) reported 23 arrests of Mexicans in various cities of the South American country.
Among the more notable arrests, Colombian authorities recently charged Brian Donaciano Olguín Verdugo, alias “Pitt,” an emissary of the Sinaloa Cartel, along with Pacífico Cartel operators Carlos Omar Félix and Silvano Francisco Mariano, who were on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) most wanted list.
Although Colombia remains the world’s leading producer of cocaine, foreign criminal enterprises, especially Mexican cartels, are becoming major partners in the production of the drug.
According to Óscar Naranjo Trujillo, former director of the National Police and former vice president of Colombia, the Mexican cartels supervise production in Colombian laboratories to ensure the shipment and supply of the drug.
Drug shipments usually leave Colombia by sea and air, and are moved through containers in the ports of Buenaventura and Urabá, and on the Caribbean coast, where the ports of Cartagena and Santa Marta are located, he said.
Drug routes also pass through Venezuela to reach the Caribbean islands and Mexico.