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Cablegate: Colombian and Mexican Authorities Moving Swiftly in Wake Of

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #8170/01 3251836
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211836Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0225
INFO RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO PRIORITY 8077
RHEHOND/DIR ONDCP WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL//SCJ2/SCJ3/SCJ5//
RUEAIAO/HQ ICE IAO WASHINGTON DC//IAO
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BOGOTA 008170

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR INL/LP AND WHA/AND

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR PGOV PREL KCRM PTER MX CO
SUBJECT: COLOMBIAN AND MEXICAN AUTHORITIES MOVING SWIFTLY IN WAKE OF
RECENT MEXICAN COCAINE SEIZURES

REF: BOGOTA 7470

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Government of Mexico (GOM) seized two large
cocaine shipments that originated from Colombian seaports in
October. In response to these seizures, the Government of Colombia
(GOC) sought additional information from the GOM and initiated
formal investigations of all involved parties to include any
Colombian police who may have played a role in facilitating the
passage of the contaminated containers through the port inspection
process. The two governments continue to cooperate closely to
advance their respective investigations and identify those
responsible for these illicit shipments. END SUMMARY.

----------------------------------
OVER THIRTY TONS OF COCAINE SEIZED
----------------------------------

2. (SBU) On October 5, 2007 Mexican authorities seized 11.7 tons of
cocaine in Tampico, following the arrival of these cocaine-laden
containers from the Mexican port of Altamira. The Tampico
containers originated from the port of Cartagena, Colombia. On
October 31, 2007 Mexican authorities seized 23.5 tons of cocaine in
Manzanillo which had arrived from the port of Buenaventura,
Colombia.

-------------
GOC REACTION
-------------

3. (SBU) The GOC, and in particular the Colombian National Police's
Anti-Narcotics Command (DIRAN), immediately took the following
actions upon learning of these Mexican seizures:

- Notified the GOC Attorney General's office (Fiscalia) of these
seizures and requested the initiation of criminal
investigations--including investigation and prosecution of any
police who might become suspects.

- Deployed National Police polygraph teams (with Embassy NAS
and ICE support) to both involved Colombian ports to conduct exams
of DIRAN Port Commanders, selected members of their units, and
civilian workers who might have had contact with the contaminated
shipments.

- Based on polygraph results and subsequent interviews, the DIRAN
Commander, Brigadier General Alvaro Caro Melendez, placed the DIRAN
Buenaventura Port Commander on administrative leave and reassigned
several other police officers, from both ports, pending the final
outcome of the ongoing Colombian National Police and Colombian
Fiscalia investigations.

-----------------------------------
CLOSE COLOMBIAN-MEXICAN COOPERATION
-----------------------------------

4. (SBU) These seizures have resulted in what one senior DIRAN
officer described as "an unprecedented level" of bilateral
investigative cooperation between the GOC and GOM. Examples of this
newfound collaboration include:

- Multiple phone contacts between GOM and GOC officials involved
in these cases, including an extended telephonic conversation
between Colombian National Police Commander Oscar Naranjo and
Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora on November 1, 2007.

- Face-to-face discussions in Bogota on November 9, 2007 between
Medina Mora, Naranjo and Caro during the Attorney General's recent
visit to Colombia for unrelated tri-lateral discussions (Mexico,
Colombia, and U.S.). Medina Mora also met separately with Colombian
Fiscalia and DIRAN officials responsible for conducting the
investigations later that same day.

- The assignment of a Mexican Attorney General's Office
investigator to travel to Colombia and work directly with Colombian
investigators on both cases; the investigator arrived in Cartagena
on November 12, 2007 and remained through November 15, 2007; he
plans to return to Colombia on November 19, 2007 to continue his
coordination with GOC representatives.

5. (SBU) Comment: Despite the narcotraffickers' recent success in
smuggling these large quantities of cocaine out of Colombian ports,
the rapid reaction of the GOM, coupled with the strong bilateral
cooperation between Mexican and Colombian authorities, suggests that
these shipments may serve as a positive catalyst. If the parties
continue their close collaboration with one another on these

investigations, not only will a heavy economic blow have been dealt
to these narcotraffickers through the seizures, but a new era of
GOC-GOM cooperation on these matters ensue in as well.

BROWNFIELD

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