CARTAGENA, Colombia — Special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency assisted the Colombian National Police (CNP) this week in identifying a container holding seven tons of cocaine.
Intelligence led police to the container which was scheduled to depart from the port of Cartagena for Rotterdam, Netherlands. Investigators from the antinarcotics police detected irregularities in the paperwork, which declared that the shipment contained jarred pineapple. As the police scanned the container to verify its contents, they discovered what turned out to be the largest shipment of cocaine seized since 2008.
The fruit jars disguised 456 boxes, each holding 20 bricks, which tested positive for cocaine hydrochloride. Documents showed the legal representative of the export company was registered in San Andrés de Sotavento. However, the investigation is ongoing to establish the authenticity and location of the container owners.
The drug traffickers labelled the narcotics with the number 800 and the logo of a renowned automobile company, the same symbols used by "Los Urabeños" in a two-ton shipment of cocaine confiscated 15 days ago by the national police in Buenaventura. These similarities make police believe that Los Urabeños are also behind this latest shipment in Cartagena.
The seven tons of cocaine have an estimated value of $242 million U.S. dollars in Europe, the approximate equivalent of 500 billion Colombian pesos. So far in 2014, Colombian police have seized 13.5 tons of cocaine in the Ports of Santa Marta, Buenaventura, Cartagena and Barranquilla.
Through ICE's Office of International Affairs and the State Department, HSI has 67 attaché offices in 48 countries around the world. This presence includes an on-the-ground relationship-building effort of HSI special agents working closely with foreign law enforcement agencies, and through a robust network of specialized vetted units known as Transnational Criminal Investigative Units. Additionally, HSI brings personnel from host countries to the United States to train at the Department of Homeland Security Federal Law Enforcement Training Center at Glynco, Ga.