FIL PHOTO: US dollar banknotes are seen in this image, the illustration taken February 12, 2018. REUTERS / Jose Luis…
FIL PHOTO: US dollar banknotes are seen in this image, the illustration taken February 12, 2018. REUTERS / Jose Luis Gonzalez // Filfoto
BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia has arrested 27 people accused of belonging to four smuggling networks recruiting youngsters to swallow drug smuggling profits and bring them into the South American country from Mexico, police said on Thursday.
The money was wrapped in capsules made of latex gloves and consisted of funds from unidentified Mexican cartels. The cash was in exchange for cocaine sent by Colombian criminal gangs, National Rebellion Army (ELN) rebels and dissidents from Colombian Revolutionary Defense Force (FARC), demobilized last year.
The smuggling network was broken with the help of the US Immigration and Customs Administration, police said.
The network would recruit unemployed and poor young people to travel to Mexico and then take between 80 and 1
20 capsules of money before returning to Colombia, says General Jorge Hernando Nieto, Chief of the National Police.
“With each intake they can raise up to $ 40,000, there’s even a case where they collected $ 75,000 in a traveler,” Nieto told reporters. “The seized money in this survey amounts to $ 11 million.”
One of the prisoners had traveled between Colombia and Mexico 250 times since 2015, he said.
Colombia is the world’s leading producer of cocaine, the majority of which are sent to Mexican cartels, which largely control their distribution. Colombian cocaine production is approximately 1000 tonnes per year, according to safety sources.
Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Write by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing Helen Murphy and Rosalba Brien
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.