The Government should impose sanctions on the United Arab Emirates if cartel leader Daniel Kinahan is not extradited, according to the vice-president of Colombia.
In an exclusive interview with the Irish Independent, Marta Lucía Ramírez, the vice-president and foreign affairs minister of Colombia, said she was concerned about European gangs in her home country.
Colombia is the biggest producer of cocaine in the world, and Irish crime gangs, including the Kinahan cartel, work with Colombian drug cartels to smuggle the drug into this country.
Gardaí have even been deployed to the Colombian capital Bogota in an attempt to dismantle the crime cartels.
When asked how justice can be served on criminals such as Daniel Kinahan, who is on the run from An Garda Síochána and the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) in Dubai, Ms Ramírez said sanctions should be considered if countries did not want to help with clamping down on criminals.
“I think that we have to improve the extradition agreements between countries. For example, Colombia is very open to have extradition agreements with many different countries and we have extradited so many people,” she said.
“We have to take stronger decisions to some governments [and say,] ‘OK, if you don’t help us enough to combat these drug dealers, we don’t want to have all these trade agreements’,” she said.
“I think coherency is important in defeating the cartels.”
The vice-president said European countries had their part to play in fighting the criminals.
“The Colombian government is doing all that we can do in our hands but there is a long value-added chain.
“There [are] so many people processing the coca [plant] in laboratories in Europe. In the past, it was only in Colombia.”
She said Colombia had no “control” over drug processors in Europe.
“That’s why we are always asking democratic governments to work together with us because it affects the legitimacy of all of us,” she added.
“It’s not only Colombia, we cannot combat this alone.”
When asked whether she is worried about the impact European drug cartels have on Colombia, Ms Ramírez replied: “Of course.”
“For us it is clear that the money that comes from drugs is so much and these people, they are very powerful.
“These cartels are involved not only in drugs, but they are involved in trafficking of people, human trafficking.”
She said part of the reason behind her country’s booming drugs trade was the Colombian peace agreement, which ended five decades of conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc). The chapter on drug cartels was “very soft”, she said.
“It doesn’t ask [for] a commitment to provide information about the international cartels, who are their allies, so they have Mexican characters, Russian cartels, European cartels from different countries, of course, from everywhere.
“That’s why for us, it was clear that if they don’t have the commitment to give information about those international cartels, we are not solving the problem of drugs in Colombia.”
Ms Ramírez said young people needed to be shown how environmentally unfriendly the production of drugs was
“I think that we need to do more effective campaigns also showing the youth how drugs are killing the environment – how much water is being used because of drugs, how much chemicals, how much deforestation. We in Colombia have had a huge deforestation because of the coca crops,” she said.
“We have to show citizens and also the young people, when you consume drugs, you are killing yourself, you are [making] a very bad decision [for] your brain, [for] your health, but also you are killing the environment.”
The issue of drug trafficking was raised in a meeting between Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Ms Ramírez when she was in Dublin last week for the Global Diaspora Summit.
The two-day summit of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) was attended by foreign affairs ministers and ambassadors from 12 countries, including France and India.
Co-chaired by Diaspora Minister Colm Brophy, foreign affairs ministers signed the Dublin Declaration, which will shape the agenda of future action for global diaspora engagement.
Ms Ramírez said Colombia was in talks to start exporting green hydrogen to Ireland, which the country hopes to start producing soon.
“In the future, we would like to have not only the possibility to export and also to bring Irish investment to Colombia to develop in Colombia, because we can have a kind of hub in Colombia to produce energy to sell it to different countries,” she said.