Unveiling The NarcoFiles: Exposing Cocaine Trafficking in Belgium’s Ports

2023-11-06 15:21:00

Belgium figures prominently in the NarcoFiles, “the largest leak of legal documents on cocaine trafficking from South America”, write Knack and De Tijd this Monday, after an investigation involving 7 million e -emails, revealing how Colombian drug cartels are smuggling tons of coke through Antwerp.

Late last year, Knack and De Tijd began investigating all leaked documents – emails from the Colombian prosecutor’s office – that refer to Belgium. The international journalistic project, in cooperation with more than 40 other media outlets around the world, was carried out by the collective Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), in collaboration with the Centro Latinoamericano de Investigación Periodística (CLIP).

The NarcoFiles sheds light on the operation of drug cartels in Colombia, a country which produces around 60% of the cocaine consumed in the world. La Cordillera is one of these cartels. It was founded twenty years ago by paramilitary commander Carlos Mario Jiménez, nicknamed Macaco. The organization has several hundred members. According to Knack and De Tijd, the leaked documents show how La Cordillera ships cocaine destined for the European market, mainly to Belgium.

Besides the big cartels, smaller Colombian gangs are also behind the trafficking to our country. They are increasingly forming looser networks with other gangs. Particularly since Colombian authorities reached a peace deal in 2016 with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which controlled up to 40 percent of the global cocaine trade, dissidents from smaller organizations have continued to take their share of the cocaine trade.

The NarcoFiles also give an idea of ​​what happens before a large shipment of cocaine arrives at the port of Antwerp. For example, 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 a ship’s hull. Since 2019, divers at the port of Antwerp have also been checking for the presence of the latter.

From 2017 to 2021, Colombian authorities intercepted at least 17.7 tonnes of cocaine destined for Antwerp at five major ports.

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