Next to the airport El Embrujo on the island of Providencia is the C & E Mini Shop.A hidden minimarket selling seafood, tobacco, fish, liquor and food.
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According to locals and documents, it belongs to a well-known businessman from the archipelago who traveled the Caribbean and bought specialty items for the business. But for the DEA, Adam is a provider of boats and drug dealers, recruiting islanders for a network that gets tons of cocaine from Uribia (La Guajira) and Buenaventura (Valle) through a unique but successful mechanism.
Federal agents have audio recordings of businessman Erick Alberto Britton Livingston speaking under the pseudonym Ruca. He is one of the important leaders of the mafia organization, which has the luxury of transporting cocaine undetected up to 550 kilometers by road.
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The network collects around 40 tons of drugs per month in Valle, Cauca and Catatumbo. By bypassing checkpoints and controls, it transports cocaine to collection points in La Guajira, Magdalena and Atlántico to ship first to Honduras and Mexico; and then to the United States.
The trick is to buy the latest high-end vans, modify them in specialized workshops (to make stashes), and move the drug to compartments that are difficult to detect.
Mechanism So successful was EL TIEMPO that the DEA learned of a letter asking Colombian authorities to deal with this case, in which 18 people were arrested.
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One of the luxury vans was found in a parking lot in Soledad (Atlantico) on April 27. Toyota, with license plate KHX067, was to depart for the port of Barranquilla to camouflage a shipment of 630 kilos of cocaine bound for the Dutch port of Rotterdam.
And in Cesar, Aguachica, 70,000 doses of cocaine hydrochloride were found camouflaged on the sunroof of another vehicle (see video on eltiempo.com).
The DEA and the Prosecutor’s Office have already determined that the organization has workshops in Bogota, Cali and other cities, including cars. They then load cocaine at collection centers set up in the south of the country and in the Catatumbo region.
Some of the vehicles are transported to the Caribbean in camabajas (cargo trucks) or separately.
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EL TIEMPO, the man nicknamed Ruca, who was recorded talking about a shipment… Luis Rulbel Padilla Bedoya, imprisoned in La Picota and awaiting extradition to the United States, was filed on January 12.
But whether the ‘boss’ of this organization or one of its tentacles is the nickname Titi remains under investigation. another candidate to be extradited by the DEA in the coming months.
“A powerful gangster from La Guajira is known to launder some of the profits from his drug shipments by buying farms and importing high-quality trucks for up to 500 million pesos. At least a dozen of these vehicles were given to some vallenato singers moving along the coast,” one researcher assured this newspaper.
Alias Titi has alliances with the criminal gang ‘los Pachenca’ and the ELN. This narco-guerrilla He sends the cocaine from Catatumbo in modified vehicles guarded by heavily armed men.
Drugs according to police It is stored underground in La Guajira and shipped by boat when the cargo requested by international connections is completed.
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To deliver drugs to Central America, the network uses everything from fishing boats to speedboats. However, ultralight aircraft were also detected, carrying caches to Jamaica and not being detected by radar.
One of them crashed from a hidden landing strip in Riohacha, La Guajira, and When authorities arrived, they managed to free only 156 kilos of cocaine and the two men imprisoned in La Picota maximum security prison.
Both were requested to be extradited by the Florida Central District court.
A network of luxury cars was detected after one of the boats, On May 7, 2018, she was stranded in the open sea with three crew on board, containing 93 kilos of high-purity cocaine.
These shipments and seizures are what connects businessman Britton to the mob. but at the same time José Luis González Mengua and Juan Carlos Delgado Uriana were both captured in La Guajira.
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EL TIEMPO found that the evidence in the hands of the Prosecutor’s Office was so overwhelming that, Britton is drafting the terms of a possible preliminary agreement in which he will seek early punishment for the drug trafficking crime.
According to those close to the businessman, he has no connection with any other crime since the narcolança was seized and It has always stayed in the discreet mini market of Providencia, located in the Pueblo Viejo sector.
For this reason, they do not accept that he is tried for conspiracy to commit a crime. But on file, it appears as an essential part of the complex web, along with returnables. So he was followed for months and caught in the middle of a medical appointment scheduled for May 24 in Barranquilla.
EL TIEMPO found that Britton, González and Delgado were locked in their homes with electronic surveillance devices on one ankle. As the transnational investigation by the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office progresses.
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However, the DEA believes there is still a second part of this investigation.
dir-dir Its purpose is to find high-end cars, other accomplices of the network, cocaine suppliers and workshops where they adapt connections abroad.
It is also being investigated Dealers and importers of these vehicles sell them to the network and even to a battleship.
We would also like to determine if there is a link between this case and this case. Theft involving the use of advanced electronics to unlock minibuses in Cali and Bogota even at 15 meters (see note below).
Last Sunday, a lawyer was caught in Cali accused of involvement in the big truck heist. This newspaper found that he was on trial for theft of a truck in 2011.
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However, relatives assured that this case was a mistake. And this time, he was inspecting a truck that was put up for sale when it was seized by the Police. For now, the investigation is ongoing and is targeting fleets of trucks with bays used by the mob to transport cocaine and even marijuana.
Since 2020, authorities in the UK have warned about an electronic device of Bulgarian origin used to steal high-end vehicles. Its function is to breach vehicles’ proximity systems by scanning the signal of vehicle controls up to 15 meters away.
In cities like Colombia In Barranquilla, Medellín, Cali and Bogotá, vehicle theft has increased so far this year and there are already cases where this device is used.
(See all articles from EL TIEMPO Investigation Unit here)
According to the police, by May The city with the highest increase in vehicle thefts this year was Barranquilla, 50.4% more than in 2021.
It is followed by Medellin and Cali, which reported an 11.1 percent increase. with 10.8 percent. In Bogota, the increase was 6.1 percent. According to the same Police report, 4,196 stolen vehicles were reported across the country in 2022.
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