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Colombia’s Contraband Battle: Special Investigation

DSC_0160November 17, 2014: It’s a business worth an estimated $6 billion a year. In this special series InSight Crime looks at the links between Colombia’s contraband trade and organized crime.

Cucuta: Colombia’s Contraband City

The Colombian border town of Cucuta has smuggling coursing through its veins, underpinning its economy and strengthening organized crime, which is raking in millions from everything from beef to gasoline.

The city streets are lined with shacks where vendors siphon out the fuel from Venezuelan pickups and decant it into Colombian cars; restaurants serve Venezuelan beef that crossed the border stuffed into stripped-out cars; pharmacies sell out-of-date and damaged Venezuelan painkillers; and the marketplace hosts block after block of stalls offering everything from toothpaste to toilet cleaner that has been smuggled in from across the border.

Read full story at InSight Crime

How Contraband Politics Took Over Northeast Colombia

A police raid on a luxury mansion in Brazil in late October brought the era of Marquitos and Kiko crashing down: the gangster and the politician who together built a gasoline smuggling empire that co-opted the Colombian state of La Guajira. But while both are now facing the prospect of lengthy prison sentences, the political-criminal nexus they leave behind is far from finished.

Read full story at InSight Crime

Video Shows Colombian Police Take on Contraband with Tear Gas

Police footage shows how Colombian police confront contraband runners along the Caribbean coast, from chasing down speeding trucks loaded with gasoline to shooting tears gas at the drivers.

Read full story at InSight Crime

Contraband: Colombia’s Top Money Laundering Tool

Everything from clothes to cattle, whiskey to washing machines is smuggled into Colombiain a contraband trade worth nearly $6 billion a year, according to government estimates.

The huge profits on offer have even spurred the development of sophisticated criminal networks that have aligned with political and elite interests. But it’s the growing use of the contraband trade to launder dirty cash that most concerns Colombian authorities.

Read full story at InSight Crime

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