For cocaine, Mexican cartels pay Colombians with weapons

Mexican drug cartels allegedly send high-powered weapons to Colombia to pay for cocaine shipments, a trade that authorities in the South American country say is fueling the deadly fight between rival local groups for control of drug trafficking and its routes. .

Paying cocaine suppliers with weapons, rather than cash, helps Mexican cartels launder profits and move money more easily, said General Fernando Murillo, head of the National Police Criminal Investigation Directorate. from Colombia.

“Every day these drug trafficking negotiations through cash payment have become more difficult. So they are using different modalities, at this time, a Mexican cartel can pay with sophisticated weapons,” Murillo said.

Among the weapons that appear in the arsenals seized from traffickers is the Belgian-made FN Five-seveN pistol, dubbed “police killer,” a 5.7-caliber weapon with the ability to penetrate bulletproof vests.

Most of the 1,478 long-range weapons seized from Colombian illegal armed groups in 2020 and 2021 were manufactured abroad and clandestinely imported through the same smuggling routes used to take out cocaine shipments, military and law enforcement sources said. policeman.

Military and police authorities believe that these weapons are supplied by the Mexican cartels of Sinaloa, Los Zetas and Jalisco Nueva Generación, all with emissaries in Colombian territory.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) declined to comment, while the Mexican government did not respond to questions from Reuters.

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