Nancy Teresa González de Barberi is a renowned Colombian designer from the city of Cali, who is known for her handbags made from animal skins. Her products can be found in the most luxurious stores on the planet. Her company has the name of CI Diseño y Moda Internacional S.A.S.
Her career had been on the rise for a long time and several celebrities used her creations. Stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Harrods, Saks Fifth Avenue, among others. The value of her bags ranged from 1500 to 6000 dollars.
Supposedly her designs were handmade by humble people from Valle del Cauca, where she is originally from, which added a high value. However, there is something darker behind her practices.
In reality, what she had was an illegal traffic of furs to the United States, using people in need to travel to this country, giving them 600 dollars each for their maintenance and their objective was to say at the airports that the Nancy Gonzalez bags they were carrying were simple gifts to relatives.
The materials with which they were made belonged to Colombian wildlife, endangered species such as caimans, babillas and snakes. The skins were obtained illegally, as well as the way in which these products were exported to the United States.
At least 221 bags of this brand were brought into the United States, which ended up directly in luxury stores in that country. Over time, these people were perfecting their modus operandi to send hundreds of bags in this way, until at one point the U.S. authorities noticed that at least 32 people entered bags of this same brand simultaneously.
This put them on alert and they began to trace these products to find their origin. Authorities captured together with her, the two accomplices Juan Camilo Aguilar and Diego Mauricio Rodriguez Giraldo, who are allegedly responsible for the commercial maneuvers to carry out these operations, were captured.
These three persons remain captured, waiting for the extradition process to be developed. At this moment, the only thing missing is the approval of President Gustavo Petro, so that it can be effective and these people can be judged in the United States.
The sad part of this story is that the Colombian authorities made no effort at all to investigate the maneuvers and the abuse that this company was doing to the endangered species of Colombia.
It was not until 2017 that a bill was introduced to provide protection for Colombia’s endangered species. This shows a tremendous backwardness in relation to other countries. The government’s neglect of various rural and wilderness areas is very marked, making these types of crimes very easy to commit.
The aforementioned designer is one of many people who take advantage of this weakness and profit from the abuse of other species. It is very serious that another country has uncovered a corruption scheme for a completely different reason than the crime that was committed against the animals.
These people may be caught right now, but they will never pay the consequences of having killed so much just for greed and human vanity.
The Colombian Ministry of Environment does not seem to have clear and strong measures that can really offer real protection to the animals.
The best way to avoid so much impunity is for us to denounce, as much as possible, this kind of practices.