This paper aims to identify the variables that contribute to explain the current abiliTY of the Colombian criminal system to resolve cases of kidnapping, terrorism and embezzlement. In order to achieve this goal a sample of cold cases and sentenced files were analysed in three main cities of the country. The success of a criminal investigation was divided into three stages: a) the identification of at least one suspect per case; b) the accusation and putting on trial of the suspect; and c) his/her conviction. Econometric techniques were used to identify the criminal investigation variables associated to each of the three successes. Variables such as the evidence and investigative practices used by the judicial police, the attorneys and the courts were taken into account. The results of this study have important implications for criminal investigation and crime policy in Colombia and in the region.