Rafael Croda Proceso (2-26-2013)
Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat
Warned by President Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombia National Police (PNC: Policia Nacional de Colombia) opened an investigation to detect the presence and modus operandi of the Sinaloa Cartel. That's how it was determined that the criminal organization operates in three departments in the country and has woven alliances with one of the local criminal gangs in the Pacific zone. Consulted on this matter, several researchers warn of the risks that implies, because they're afraid that Chapo's operators will get involved in the fighting between the local mafias who are disputing over control of the drug trafficking routes.
BOGOTA (Proceso).-- Presented with allegations that Chapo Guzman and his followers operate in Narino and other Departments [Administrative subdivisions similar to provinces.-- un vato], President Juan Manuel Santos ordered the PNC, General Jose Roberto Leon Riano, and the Attorney General to initiate an investigation to battle Mexican drug traffickers.
On Thursday, (February) 14, heading a security council in the city of Tumaco, Santos pointed out: There are "rumors about the possible presence of members of Mexican cartels here in the Department of Narino" and for that reason, "we instructed the police director, in conjunction with the Attorney General, to investigate thoroughly whether there is room to believe that those rumors are true.
"We are not aware of any concrete information, but several people tell me that rumors are increasing of the presence of cartels, in particular the Sinaloa cartel, in some areas in the Narino Department, which of course we will fight and will not tolerate for any reason."
The presence of El Chapo here is more than a rumor, according to PNC intelligence sources consulted by this reporter.
Thanks to alliances with local organizations, the Sinaloa Cartel -- also known as the Pacific Cartel-- was able to establish itself in the country and now has a presence in three regions since last year: In the Eastern Plains, an extensive zone of tropical savannas to the southeast of the capital; in the southwestern Department of Narino, and in Buenaventura, the strategic access port to the Colombian Pacific, located 205 miles southwest of Bogota, the interviewees assure Proceso.
One of them, involved in a PNC investigation, also assures (the reporter) that, in addition, "there's an attempt by the Sinaloa Cartel to bypass intermediaries and go directly to the primary sources of drug production and trafficking in Colombia."
That same Thursday, (Feb.) 14, PNC intelligence agents and investigators deployed to the area and observed that in Narino, bordering Ecuador, and in the port of Tumaco --which is used to ship cocaine to Central America and Mexico via the Pacific Ocean --, Mexican narcos control the cultivation of coca leaf and the laboratories installed in that area to process it.
Towards the end of 2012, several Mexican drug traffickers arrived in Narino and immediately got in touch with the local bosses of Los Rastrojos, the gang that is disputing the drug market with Los Urabenos. The confrontations have left dozens dead, say the locals.
According to the PNC, the Mexicans are members of the Sinaloa Cartel and "go in and out of the country". With support from Los Rastrojos, say the agents consulted, they supervise directly the cultivation of coca leaf and the laboratories used to process it, some of them located in Ecuadorian territory. According to them, the shipments are made from the port of Tumaco.
"We see the Sinaloa Cartel's intent to assume supervision and control of the entire process: production, processing and transport of the drug from Colombia," says one of the police officers consulted.
El Chapo's agents -- drug trafficking managers, more than gunmen, according to the PNC-- travel through the corridor that runs from Tumaco to the Ipiales municipality, on the border with Ecuador, located some 107 miles southeast of the port.
"It's an area with a great deal of criminal conflict, and it's a strategic corridor for drug trafficking due to routes drugs have to the Pacific and to Ecuador and because we have coca fields and laboratories there. The Mexicans want to control the whole chain," says one of the interviewees to the reporter.
(Extracted from a report from Proceso magazine No. 1895, now in circulation.)