News briefing – Week of 15 May

  • Spanish and Ecuadorian authorities seized 5 tonnes of cocaine hidden in a cargo vessel at Santa Elena, Ecuador, and bound to Spain via Panama. The haul is estimated at $250m and is considered as one of the largest cocaine seizures to date. Twenty individuals were arrested on charges of drug trafficking.
  • U.S. Coast Guard intercepted 18.5 tonnes of cocaine, worth $500 million, in 20 separate seizures in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, along the Central and South American coasts. Cocaine trafficking usually goes through Mexico before being sold to the U.S., main consumer of cocaine source countries from South America.
  • Mexican journalist Javier Valdez was shot dead in Sinaloa, in the north-west of Mexico. The journalist, who extensively covered drug trafficking and organised crime and was awarded for his work in 2011, is the fifth journalist to be killed in Mexico in 2017. Mexico remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists in lawless areas where drug cartels prevail.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos met and pledged to clamp down on cocaine production in Colombia. The meeting broached questions of security and economic issues in South America but no explicit mention was made during the press conference to a possible continuation of US aid to the Colombian government in its fight against drug trafficking.