Belgium features prominently in the NarcoFiles, “the largest ever leak of court documents on cocaine trafficking from South America”. Knack and De Tijd wrote this on Monday after an investigation into 7 million emails, which reveal how Colombian drug cartels smuggle tons of coke to Antwerp.
At the end of last year, Knack and De Tijd started investigating all leaked documents – e-mails from the Colombian Public Prosecution Service – that refer to Belgium. The international journalistic project, in collaboration with more than 40 other media outlets around the world, was led by the collective Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), in partnership with Centro Latinoamericano de Investigación Periodística (CLIP).
The NarcoFiles sheds light on how drug cartels function in Colombia, the country that produces about 60 percent of the cocaine consumed worldwide. La Cordillera is such a cartel. Twenty years ago it was founded by the paramilitary commander Carlos Mario Jiménez, nicknamed Macaco. The organization has several hundred members. The leaked documents show how La Cordillera mainly sends the cocaine intended for the European market to Belgium, according to Knack and De Tijd.
In addition to the large cartels, there are also smaller gangs in Colombia behind the traffic to our country. They increasingly form looser networks with other gangs. Especially since Colombian authorities signed a peace deal with the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016, which controlled up to 40 percent of the global cocaine trade, dissidents with smaller organizations have continued to hold on to their share of the cocaine traffic.
The NarcoFiles also provide an image of what happens before a large shipment of cocaine arrives in the port of Antwerp. For example, the smugglers use speedboats to climb onto a container ship using a ladder, or ‘cajas de mar’, metal tubes filled with coke that are attached to the hull of a ship. Since 2019, divers in the port of Antwerp have also been checking for the latter.
From 2017 to 2021, Colombian authorities intercepted at least 17.7 tons of cocaine bound for Antwerp at five major ports.
In October alone, at least 23 tons of cocaine were intercepted in the port of Antwerp: how much will the drug mafia lose out on this financially?(+)
ANALYSIS. How an unwritten rule in the Antwerp drug war was flouted: “From now on it will only become more dangerous”(+)
WATCH ALSO. Antwerp customs officers threatened with machete and tied up by drug gang
Free unlimited access to Showbytes? Which can!
Log in or create an account and never miss anything from the stars.
Yes, I want free unlimited access