Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Sunday, January 20, 2019

How Colombia reduced oil theft by 97%--and "Cocaine and Crude" Video

Tinman for Borderland Beat republished and translated from Excelsior

 Above is a great Vice video n the subject--we posted it a couple of years ago and thought it was a good time to revisit..

For a decade, between 1999 and 2009, Colombia suffered from fuel theft.

In this illegal activity, guerrilla and paramilitary groups participated, as well as the drug cartels, which caused the company Ecopetrol losses of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The worst year was 2002, when an average of 7,270 barrels of fuel, equivalent to 1.15 million liters, were stolen per day.

Although the commercialization of stolen gasoline has always had an economic attraction, this practice began with the production of cocaine, which uses petroleum products as an input.

To produce a kilo of cocaine, you need, in addition to one hundred kilos of coca leaf and other ingredients, almost 40 liters of gasoline or diesel.

The fuel is used to absorb the alkaloids released by the coca leaves with the help of a mixture of sodium carbonate, calcium carbonate and sulfuric acid.

Over time, criminal organizations began to steal even crude oil, which they processed in clandestine refineries, which allowed them to generate two byproducts known as suckling pig and hexane, which, according to drug traffickers, gives better quality to cocaine.

According to data from Ecopetrol, Colombia has a pipeline network of eight thousand 954 kilometers, of which five thousand 467 are oil pipelines and three thousand 106 are pipelines.

One of the main pockets of attack by the fuel thieves is the Trans-Andean Pipeline, which links the production areas of the southern department of Putumayo with the port of San Andrés de Tumaco, in the Pacific. Another is the Caño Limón-Coveñas pipeline, which borders the Venezuelan border in the eastern part of the country.

In both cases, the participation of the FARC, the guerrilla with which the Colombian government signed a peace agreement, was widely documented.

The presence of Mexican cartels in illegal fuel theft has also been detected. In October 2016, the newspaper El Colombiano reported on a police investigation that detected the presence of the Sinaloa Cartel in the department of Nariño, due to its interest in cocaine produced with suckling pig.

In addition to the economic damage, the hydrocarbon theft caused great damage to the environment. According to Ecopetrol, fuel thieves only used 38% of the product and discarded the rest in soils and rivers.

When the illegal extraction of oil and petroleum products reached its peak in 2002, Ecopetrol and the Colombian government established "a joint strategy, in which, through a strong coordination and assurance component, police, judicial, legal, and technological actions were integrated, operational and social, with a high commitment from the government and its institutions "( El Nuevo Siglo , April 22, 2013).

"Security and surveillance measures were increased by the police and military forces, while interdisciplinary groups were created, dedicated exclusively to the control of hydrocarbons seizure, where support structures, known as Edas, were interconnected. with officials of the Prosecutor's Office, the CTI (Technical Investigation Corps), the disappeared Administrative Department of Security (DAS) and the Central Directorate of Judicial Police and Intelligence (DIJIN). "

These Edas had "the responsibility to conduct investigations, prosecute criminals and encourage the strengthening of laws and decrees to promote legal changes in order to combat this activity with more force".

Simultaneously, Ecopetrol developed leak detection systems, using different technologies, to accurately identify the location of illicit drilling and the quantification of stolen volumes.

Thus, in ten years, Colombia achieved a decrease of more than 97% in fuel theft. "Of the more than seven thousand barrels per day that were stolen on average in 2002, it went to 23 barrels per day in 2012."

That is, there is a way to attack this illegal activity, which can be even more profitable than drug trafficking.

( This delivery of the Bitácora was originally published on May 10, 2017. Today it reappears because of the interest that exists in the subject .) 


  1. And people keep saying drug dealing cartels don't need to be huichicoleros but even in Colombia cartels are in the oil theft. Realistically, cartels are made to make money and they will get in any industry to get it. That's the reason cjng and marro are at war, were talking billions of dollars pemex loses yearly

  2. Maybe if they lowered the prices here there would be far left less theft. With regular at $4 a gallon the largest portion of the population can not afford to buy gas. It would also help the economy as more people could afford a car and more could travel.

    1. $ 2,08 A GALLON N
      1,75, E85 HERE IN MN.

  3. Replies
    1. No sorry your not eligable ok so get your one star movies off of my cable TV Icant stand the peliculas from argentina

  4. Don't you juts love it when articles like this are written so as to try and say,"see Colombia did it so can Mexico". They have done the same thing when it comes to drug trafficking with Plan Colombia thinking they can just transfer it to Mexico. But Mexico is not Colombia. Two different types of governments, different criminal groups, and Mexico's corruption is different too.

  5. I hate how you pick and choose your comments to release. Mine wasn't even all that bad and broke no rules. I simply made a joke stating " damn, what have I been putting up my nose" and you chose to not post my comment. Why?

    1. sorry as i explained-- I am not attempting to moderate, write and report at 100%. it will be a couple more weeks at least. I am doing my best. send it thru again. signed it "complainer" so I know to look for it.

    2. Lmao chivis 😂😂❤️❤️❤️ Loved it

  6. I googled the term "suckling pig" as a petroleum byproduct used in narcotics production and tell only thing that came up was a roasted yummy looking pig. Is this just a really poor translation effort?

  7. Venezuela's practically free gasoline and the smuggling of it into Colombia are factors perhaps they have increased since Colombia was able to crack down on theft. Now that the borders are officially closed I wonder how that smuggling is going to continue. It's rumored that the Venezuelan Army is deep into smuggling the stuff into Colombia. I would imagine that a couple of interns could track that on Google maps.


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