Heroin: The Alternative for Colombian Cartels

September 3, 2018 Crime , OPINION/NEWS , OTHER , South America

Reuters photo



Ricardo Swire



Colombia is synonymous to cocaine and cartels. Notorious criminal characters associated with violent, high value underworld businesses, are on worldwide law enforcement’s most wanted lists, their activities constantly punctuating media reports. Ultra modern Colombian cartels have quietly included more heroin in market offerings. Colombia is the fourth largest heroin supplier in the world. Unlike cocaine the drug is difficult to produce, but yields three times more profit.


The 2016 United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC) report pegged one kilo of heroin’s value at US$53,000, on the American market, doubling the cocaine figure. The Oliver Sinisterra Front is the sophisticated drug trafficking cartel that operates in south-western Colombia and along the border with Ecuador. The Chief of Colombia’s Anti-narcotics Police, Heroin Investigation Unit, noted that heroin is transhipped to Ecuador via the “anti-trafficking” method. The drug is later exported to America where a kilo costs US$55,000.


CARICOM intelligence reports noted National Police of Ecuador initiatives, assisted by military operations against heavily armed drug traffickers in communities north of San Lorenzo that have made the residential area dangerous and off limits. Popular narco trafficker “Yepes” commands two hundred and four armed syndicate members. His criminal regime’s terror blitz extends to the other side of the border with Ecuador. He uses the port of Manta and Esmeraldas to export US destined heroin shipments.


At the top of Colombian Anti Narcotics Police wanted list is kingpin “Gustavo” or “HH.” He carries a bounty of pesos 2 million and US federal agencies have joined the hunt. Colombian and Ecuadorian law enforcement intelligence agents maintain fluid dialogue about similar “narcos” movements and operations. In July 2017 two multi-agency enforcement operations seized twenty-eight kilos of heroin in the port of Guayaquil and the city of Duran.


Three drug labs were destroyed. One in Buesaco, Narino, transformed latex to heroin. In Narino almost all heroin is destined for export. Another lab channelled chemicals such as acetic anhydride, the base for opioid extraction. On Saturday August 18, 2018 Colombian Anti-Narcotics Police intercepted a family of four near the Rumichaca Bridge on the border with Ecuador.


The husband and wife plus two sons attempted to smuggle four hundred and fifty latex glove “fingers” of heroin from Tulsan in the Andes Mountains south of the Carchi River, near the border with Colombia, to Ecuador’s most populous city Guayaquil. Colombian counter-narcotics agents found heroin hidden in the vehicle’s spare tyre compartment. CARICOM intelligence data has mapped Colombian heroin/opioids that are transported by modified trucks, from Paso and Ipiales to Quito and Guayaquil, traffickers maximizing thirty-two illegal crossings to enter border countries.





Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.

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