1707973584 The migration phenomenon leads to the arrival of a New

The migration phenomenon leads to the arrival of a New York Police Department liaison in Bogotá

Colombia will strengthen police cooperation with the United States through the New York Police Department's first liaison post in South America, soon to be established in Bogotá. The representation of the largest North American local police force joins representation in 13 cities worldwide, including Toronto, Tel Aviv and Madrid. The authorities of Colombia and New York are finalizing details of the memorandum of understanding that will pave the way for the arrival of a senior intelligence officer for a permanent presence in the Colombian capital.

While waiting for the details of the agreement to be announced, Rebecca Weiner, New York's deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, anticipated the reasons for the decision. “This comes from the recognition that we have many vexing problems at our southern border: the scourge of fentanyl, transnational criminal organizations that may have a foothold in the United States and increasingly in our city, and the immigration crisis,” Weiner said during the event was the New York City Police Foundation's annual breakfast, according to the New York Daily News.

The measure requires that an officer be stationed in Bogotá to inform New York of the movements or activities of organized crime structures. Weiner emphasized that the goal is to obtain accurate information as quickly as possible when an event occurs that could affect the most populous city in the United States, citing as an example most recently the Tel Aviv detective's reports on Hamas. Attack in Israel July 7th. October. New York Police Department Commissioner Edward Cabán has assured that the liaison post in Bogota, along with another in Tucson, Arizona, will maximize regional presence and provide “critical information that will be critical to protecting the city of New York . York. York.

The destination city of the link – whose identity as well as the exact location from which it is sent is unknown – was announced by New York Mayor Eric Adams during his visit to Colombia in October 2023 as part of a mission, according to National Police Director William Salamanca, I will be taking a tour of Latin America to learn about the main routes of migrants to the United States. “We held meetings with his team to support and accompany the ambassador [Luis Gilberto] Murillo and the ambassador [Francisco] Palmieri, and he raised the possibility of having a liaison officer here,” the general said. Salamanca maintains close diplomatic relations with the United States, where he was Consul of Miami before assuming his current position by order of the President of the Republic, Gustavo Petro.

During his visit last year, Mayor Adams witnessed the complexity of the migration phenomenon in Necoclí, a municipality of about 45,000 inhabitants in the Urabá of Antioquia, where the journey to the Darién Gap begins. He also flew over the dangerous jungles between Colombia and Panama, where thousands of people risk their lives to cross into Central America and head north in search of better opportunities than those they find in their places of origin. Many of these migrants end up in New York City.


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The Colombian Embassy in the United States recognizes that the visit of the delegations of both countries to Necoclí was an important step to understand the situation at the border crossing and work on common solutions. “This bilateral collaboration focuses on knowledge exchange, operational advances and improvements in the technical capacity of the Colombian Police to address regional and global challenges, including human mobility,” the embassy confirmed to EL PAÍS.

Migrants on a dock before boarding a boat in Necoclí, August 2021.Migrants on a dock before boarding a boat in Necoclí, August 2021. Santiago Mesa

According to the Ombudsman's Office, around 520,000 migrants crossed the Darién last year, more than twice as many as in 2022. The majority were of Venezuelan nationality (328,650), alongside Ecuadorians, Haitians, Chinese and Colombians. Of these, 113,180 were girls, boys and young people. On the Colombian side, the area remains in the possession of the Clan del Golfo, which is considered the largest drug trafficking gang in the country. The National Army estimates that this armed group receives an average of $125 for each person who attempts to cross rivers and mountains.

Juan Pappier, deputy director of the Americas division at Human Rights Watch, points out that the Darién Gap has become a migration hub, one of the facts that most explains the name of the New York connection. “It is there that Latin America's greatest weaknesses come together to respond to migration: the lack of legal and safe routes for migration to the north, the limitations of integration and regularization policies in South America and the lack of territorial control to protect the population.” Areas the region,” says Pappier.

The continued arrival of migrants in New York has recently been a headache for authorities in the city that never sleeps. Mayor Adams warned late last year that they had reached “the limit of their capacity” after receiving more than 122,000 asylum applications in less than two years.

The Colombian police have a long history of international cooperation and interaction with intelligence agencies around the world in the fight against transnational organized crime, particularly with the United States. Former Defense Minister and former Ambassador Gabriel Silva Luján emphasizes that the alliance with the New York Police Department, the largest and, with around 36,000 officers, one of the oldest in the country, includes the shared need to counter irregular migration.

“Without a doubt, with illegal migration, Colombia has become the most important transit country in the region, with people coming from all over the world, from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, to try to get to the United States.” If you think about that “If we want to understand the phenomenon and gather relevant intelligence information to prevent situations in New York and its sphere of influence, it makes sense that the police would want to have this presence,” says Silva.

Migrants gather in New York on January 20 at locations where food and warm clothing are distributed.Migrants gather in New York on January 20 at locations where food and warm clothing are distributed. Andres Kudacki (AP)

Once the Memorandum of Understanding is formalized, the scope of the collaboration will be determined. For Colombia, this can mean access to information that helps dismantle criminal organizations. “The New York area is one of the main destinations for many illegal migrants trafficked by Colombian mafias, including the Clan del Golfo. Any information that helps uncover how these gangs operate is greatly appreciated. “In addition, the New York Police Department has capabilities that Colombia does not have,” the former minister added.

For his part, Mathew Charles, a sociologist and researcher at the Externado University of Colombia on organized crime issues, believes that a city-level alliance will ensure more direct access to information from both sides of the border. “This is important because those conducting the investigations are often the local police. If they talk to each other, it can improve their investigations and their ability to combat cross-border crime,” he points out.

The New York City Police Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization created to improve public safety, covers the costs of the liaison officers' arrival in Bogotá and Tucson, while salaries are covered directly by the police department to which they belong . “Our philosophy has always been, it's the foundation of our liaison program: We're not going to wait for problems to come to us,” said Weiner, the deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism.

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