Israeli crime groups in major Colombian cities have been serving a growing market of tourists seeking sex and drugs, at times expanding into transnational trafficking and alarming authorities in both countries, according to hacked records from Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office.
The hacked files, most of which are from 2018 to 2022, include phone tap records, arrest and seizure reports, and correspondence between Israeli and Colombian officials, who exchanged information and expressed growing concern about Israeli gangs’ operations in Colombia.
“We have identified a significant increase in Israeli citizens living in Colombia, who, under the leadership and with the complicity of Colombian citizens, are carrying out a variety of crimes on Colombian territory,” reads an unsigned memorandum of understanding between Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office and Israel’s National Police, dated May 3, 2018.
The files suggest Colombian and Israeli authorities maintained a close anti-crime relationship in the years following the exchange of the memorandum of understanding, though it is unclear whether the document was ever signed. Israeli officials did not respond to requests for comment, and Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on the document.
Israeli gangs in Colombia largely serve tourist markets and operate primarily in big cities. While most of the gangs have limited or no ties to major players in Colombian organized crime, the files provide evidence of occasional high-level cooperation for transnational cocaine trafficking.
The files, combined with additional investigation by InSight Crime, give a glimpse into the little-studied phenomenon of Israeli organized crime in Colombia. They also provide a first-hand account of the daily workings of the long-standing relationship between the Israeli and Colombian security establishments before recent tensions between the two countries ruptured a traditionally cooperative anti-crime partnership.