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Monday, February 7, 2022

Colombia's Esmeralda Initiative Looks to Cyberspace to Combat Drug Trafficking

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

Defense Minister Diego Molano announced plans to target the drugs trade with new methods.

Colombia has launched a new strategy to fight drug trafficking, aiming to control cyberspace to tackle criminal groups involved in the cocaine trade, as well as block their financial transactions, Defense Minister Diego Molano said on Thursday.

The "Esmeralda" initiative, unveiled in the Caribbean city of Cartagena, will see support from 36 countries including the United States, Colombia's main ally in the war on drugs. "We hope to develop new and innovative tactics in the coming years in the fight against the global scourge of drugs," Molano said at the III International Anti-Drugs Congress.

Crime-fighting agencies around the world will increase their cyber presence, including with undercover agents, to tackle the growing distribution of drugs online, Molano said. Artificial intelligence will also be used to monitor the selling and trafficking of chemical ingredients used in drug making, to protect legal sales but prevent use in narcotics, he added.

Colombia is considered the world's top cocaine producer. Illegal armed groups including leftist guerrillas and criminal gangs descended from right-wing paramilitaries are deeply involved in production and trafficking. The South American country cut the size of coca crops, cocaine's chief ingredient, by 7% in 2020, but potential production rose 8% to 1,228 tons a year, according to the United Nations. Colombian authorities seized a record 672 tonnes of cocaine last year.

Defense Minister Diego Molano, a business administrator, was appointed by President Ivan Duque after former Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo died of COVID-19 in January 2021. Trujillo and his predecessor, Guillermo Botero, focused almost entirely on the forced eradication of coca, the base ingredient of cocaine. Molano was exposed to having a broader vision on counternarcotics and public security.

Perhaps most importantly, the defense minister made a social investment in historically neglected rural regions an explicit part of his security policy. These investment plans are part of a 2016 peace deal with demobilized FARC guerrillas that is fiercely opposed by Duque’s far-right Democratic Center party but endorsed by the US Government.

The Colombian government, which has for decades been pressured by the United States to crackdown on drugs, has pushed for the restart of aerial fumigation ever since it was banned in the South American nation in 2015.

Recently, a decision on Wednesday, the court said the government of President Ivan Duque could not at this stage move forward with plans to carry out aerial spraying with the herbicide glyphosate. It said Bogota must first adequately consult with communities that could be affected.

“The most significant thing about this [ruling] is that the court is protecting various rights that rural farmers, Indigenous and Black communities have,” Pedro Arenas, director of Viso Mutop, a think-tank that promotes drug policy reforms across Colombia, told Al Jazeera. “The government ignored the voice of the communities,” he said.

Earlier that year, the World Health Organization (WHO) linked glyphosate – marketed under the brand name RoundUp in the US – as a probable human carcinogenic.

Duque’s right-wing government had been waiting to see if it met new environmental and health requirements set out by the Constitutional Court in 2019 – a requirement to restart aerial fumigation with glyphosate.

Aerial spraying of glyphosate previously saw rural water supplies contaminated and food crops destroyed in the Colombian countryside, analysts told Al Jazeera.

Sources Reuters AlJazeera Colombia Reports


  1. cráneo y huesos un legado de Bush. la piratería de la élite de TX. huesos en una bandera negra en un barco levantado en el mar. Más que un código de 1s y 0s para teclear en la pizarra. Chips refinados capa tras capa. You savy that?

  2. Like crypto currency where lacks regulations.

  3. The lucrative money laundering business has always been a step ahead. For those wealthy that is. Crypto currency is a problem for those governments who have no control over one's assets. A revenue source affecting government.


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