Colombia’s finance ministry on Tuesday expressed fears that the amount of goods smuggled from neighboring Venezuela will increase after the Venezuelan government vowed to drastically devalue its currency.
“We cannot let the devaluation in Venezuela inundate our Colombian markets with contraband,” said Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas. The minister went on to add that the Colombian government is set to review and reinforce smuggling checkpoints along the border in order to prevent contraband inflows.
Colombian departments along the Venezuelan border are known for being hubs for smugglers looking to bring in cheap goods.
Luis Duque, small-scale peddler of gasoline along highways around the border, said that he transports gasoline from a wholesaler in Venezuela according to IPS news agency.
“I have no idea how [it gets here], that’s not my business. There may be something illegal on the Venezuelan side but not here — there are thousands of us who make our living this way,” said Duque.
Many border communities, however, have been forced to live in the shadows of criminal groups, which control most of the smuggling routes.
According to a report from the conflict-monitoring think tank Nuevo Arco Iris, the drug-trafficking gang ‘Los Rastrojos’ currently control a majority of the border smuggling routes, but other gangs and guerrilla groups have held control at different times.
Nuevo Arco Iris estimates that 1 million gallons of gasoline worth $500 million dollars is smuggled across the border each year.