Police dismantle a transnational endangered fish smuggling network - EL PAcCTO
Colombia / Environmental crimes

Police dismantle a transnational endangered fish smuggling network

14 March 2022

An investigation launched by the National Police Directorate of Carabineers in Colombia in coordination with Brazilian authorities and the Attorney General of the Nation led to an orchestrated operation in Bogota, Vichada and Amazonas and the arrest of six participants in a criminal fish trafficking and sales organisation.

Surveillance and monitoring coordinated with Brazilian authorities, in addition to the new capabilities deployed by the National Police Cyber Centre, led to the identification of the routes and the complete unveiling of the modus operandi of this organisation. This led to the simultaneous execution of six arrest warrants and three search warrants in Bogota, Puerto Carreño and Leticia.

Two fish trafficking routes

The network smuggled fish from Brazil, Venezuela and rivers in the Colombian Amazon through a legally incorporated company, which stored fish in improvised tanks in the municipalities of Puerto Carreño and Leticia. They were then taken to Bogota via two routes. The first took the fish from Puerto Carreño to Puerto Gaitán Meta, by river. Once there, they were hidden in compartments inside bags and moved to Bogota using public transport. The second route entailed sending the bags by air from Leticia to Bogota. The bags were camouflaged as goods in the holds of commercial aircraft. Almost 40% of these fish died before reaching Bogota. In other words, 8,000 of these creatures perished in the hands of these animal traffickers.

When they reached Bogota, the fish were stored in a large storage room. The police also seized hard drives and mobile devices as evidence for use in the coming criminal trials.

A successful operation within the Jaguar Network

Based on information obtained through the Jaguar Network(a network of police officers specialised in environmental crimes in Latin America and the European Union which is promoted by EL PAcCTO), it was discovered that a person known as “Nassil” is the leader of this criminal organisation. He was responsible for coordinating the entire logistical operation, and for ordering contacts to bring the fish from Brazil and Venezuela into Colombia.

The operation has stopped the marketing of around 20,000 ornamental fish, Which may have been worth around USD$10 million.

Photo: Policía Nacional de Colombia