South American drug cartels are increasingly moving their smuggling and production to Europe. The Netherlands is also a hub in the illegal import of drugs for these criminal groups, which have become increasingly fragmented. This is evident from research by a collective of international investigative journalists. Colombian President Petro responded to the results.
by Joost van der Wegen
Image: the fire at a drug lab in Poortvliet, in 2020.
Narco Files is the name of a major international journalistic investigation into the smuggling of cocaine, in particular, from Central and South America to Europe. It emerges that the drug cartels in Colombia have become increasingly fragmented, and that the trade of coke from the country to Europe is often arranged outside that country, for example from Mexico.
In the Narco Files, a specific drug line to the Netherlands is examined. According to Dutch justice, this was coordinated by the Mexican smuggler Paul Hoyos Bohorquez, also known as ‘Sodapuppy’. He is also said to have been responsible for production and sales in the Netherlands. In March 2020, a lab that his organization used as a coke laundry was found after a fire in Poortvliet.
Hoyos’ lawyer maintains that he is not guilty. This year the process for his possible extradition to the Netherlands began.
The study shows that Mexican cartels are increasingly transporting cocaine to Europe as Americans have turned to fentanyl.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro has now honored the journalistic research collective with a reaction on their research results. He sees the investigation as a confirmation of the analysis of his own government, which is mainly concerned with bringing peace and security back to the country by identifying foreign drug organizations.
He notes that drug money is now being earned abroad, while “the deaths are still happening in Colombia, there are still armed organizations, and the farmers are still being exploited.”
Petro says this makes it impossible to replace the country’s illegal drug economy with a legal economy. He also states that ‘a discussion about the legalization of cocaine is important to tackle the monster of emerging, fragmented drug multinationals.’