Colombia arrested one of the country’s main heroin traffickers, drawing attention to the country’s importance to the regional heroin trade despite poppy crops having decreased markedly in recent years.
Police in Bogota arrested Carlos Mario Agudelo, alias “El Papi,” considered to be one of the country’s main distributors of heroin to the US, reported Semana. He is said be linked to the the Rastrojos drug gang and was captured after two years of investigations carried out by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office.
According to Caracol Radio, El Papi had been trafficking heroin since at least 2001 and is accused of sending some 500 kilos of heroin to the US and laundering $20 million, crimes for which he has been indicted by the Southern District Court of New York.
InSight Crime Analysis
Colombia’s heroin business is predominantly handled by 28 “mini-cartels”, formed by about 15 people each, according to an El Tiempo report from May. These independent gangs have ties with larger organizations such as the Rastrojos, as appears to have been the case with El Papi.
The country used to be a major producer of heroin registering 3,950 hectares of poppy cultivation in 2004. However, this has dwindled markedly in recent years to an estimated 341 hectares in 2010 based on figures from the 2012 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug Report.
The majority of poppy in the region is grown in Mexico which had 14,000 hectares in 2010, according to UNODC.
Despite the fall in cultivation levels, DEA sources have told InSight Crime that the majority of heroin coming into the US appears to originate from Colombia, likely because the country produces the drug at a far higher purity level as opposed to the 40 percent pure “black tar” heroin produced in Mexico.