Colombia Dismantles Contraband Ring Partially Made of Police Officers

Published: 29 March 2024

Colombian PoliceTwo members of the Colombian National Police, specifically of the Colombian Tax and Customs Police (POLFA), were arrested for participating in a smuggling ring in the country. (Photo: Policía Nacional de los colombianos, Flickr, License)

By Lieth Carrillo

The Colombian Attorney General's Office announced on Thursday that law enforcement had dismantled a criminal network partly composed of National Police agents that smuggled textiles, footwear, cigarettes, and other goods through the port of Barranquilla on the country’s northern coast.

Five of the alleged members of the smuggling network were captured and prosecuted, including two officers who belonged to the Colombian Tax and Customs Police (POLFA).

One of the arrested policemen was identified as Major Andres Felipe Montoya Navarro who, according to Colombian authorities, is one of the main organizers of the irregular entry of at least 80% of the smuggled merchandise originating in the United States and countries in Asia and Europe.

In exchange for bribes, these police officers allegedly allowed contraband shipments that did not comply with national customs regulations to pass through the port of Barranquilla. Meanwhile, the other three members of the organization who were arrested had allegedly used their names to launder the illicit profits.

This illegal activity allowed members of the organization to accumulate wealth and purchase vehicles and real estate in the Coffee Axis, a rural region in Colombia.

In total, one company, 20 properties, and 10 vehicles were confiscated. The value of the properties seized exceeds US$1.5 million.

The suspects are now facing charges of illicit enrichment as public servants, money laundering, and smuggling. A judge sent the two agents to prison, while the civilians will be further investigated.