A Norwegian man who served prison time in Norway on narcotics charges before moving to South America has been arrested along with 12 others in Colombia, suspected of being part of a major cocaine-smuggling league.
The young man, who has not been identified in line with Norwegian press guidelines, has been charged as one of the leaders of an organization that allegedly smuggled cocaine out of the country using sailboats that were leased to unknowing tourists. He’s suspected of hiding the cocaine onboard, leasing the sailboats at low rates to tourists to avoid inspections by harbour authorities, and then transferring the cocaine to high-speed vessels that eventually transported the drugs to Central America and the US.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that police in Colombia coordinated the arrests late last month after a 17-month investigation. The arrests have received major media coverage in Colombia, which is trying to rid itself of long-standing associations to cocaine production and organized crime.
Colombian media reported that seven of the suspects were arrested in international waters near Acapulco and found with 1,022 kilos of cocaine on board their vessel. Four others were arrested in Cartagena, where the Norwegian reportedly has been living since his release from prison in Norway in 2016, and the remainder in Turbo.
A spokesman for the Norwegian foreign ministry confirmed the arrest the arrest and told NRK that the man was being offered “consular assistance” in line with all other Norwegians who need help while abroad.