In an attempt to combat the scourge of stolen mobile phones, Bogota police launched an operation in the city, conducting raids on businesses long thought to deal in the black market trade, local media reported last week.
One of the operation’s aims was to identify the premises where stolen or illegally obtained phones and equipment was being sold.
It is estimated that about 700 officers cordoned off the area around Avenida Jimenez with Caracas, not only to recover stolen phones but to carry out the raids, General Humberto Guatibonza, commander of Bogota’s Metropolitan Police Force told local media last Friday.
The stretch of shops, which deal in both legitimate and stolen phones, are located outside the malls in the adjacent plaza.
Many owners of the kiosks attempted to close up shop before police got there, and even tried to to delay the police raids by blocking the Jimenez TransMilenio station, according to reports.
There were also reports of injuries as police responded to the impromptu protest with tear gas. Six people were arrested.
The stolen phone business in Colombia is said to be a multi-million dollar industry, and a major source of muggings and other street crime in Bogota.