News briefing – week beginning 16 March

  • The Honduran National Police have arrested José Miguel ‘Chepe’ Handal Pérez, a former congressional candidate, businessman, and alleged drug trafficker. He had been on the run for two years.
  • The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has reportedly seized US$180 million worth of cocaine from Colombian drug traffickers, after five tonnes were found on a boat destined for the US.
  • The governor of Nairobi has warned that drug cartels connected to money laundering and drug trafficking are using their money to “muscle out” the city’s government.
  • Four members of a London-based gang have been jailed for reportedly trying to import 40 kilograms of cocaine, smuggled from Mexico to Heathrow airport. The cocaine was intercepted by police in 2013 following a 13-month investigation.
  • The Guatemalan government has said that the Oajaca group, which coordinates drug shipments along the country’s Pacific coastline, was responsible for the murder of two journalists last week. The journalists had been reporting on alleged “intimate connections between criminal actors and the political establishment.”
  • The Guardian has published a ‘long read’ about an undercover operation by the US DEA to bring down a drug trafficking gang in Liberia.
  • Vice has published a report on the varying levels of cocaine purity in London. Lawrence Gibbons, Senior Operations Manager for Drugs at the National Crime Agency, has reportedly said that “the streets are awash with white powder, they are not awash with drugs.”
  • Police are hunting a British man thought to be on the run in Spain as part of an investigation into a £70 million cocaine smuggling plot, after the drug was discovered hidden in a consignment of frozen Argentinean beef.
  • Six people have been arrested in Caterham, UK, after 33 kilograms of cocaine, estimated to be worth £1.6 million, was found at a property in Croydon.
  • Organised crime is the biggest threat to Colombian security, according to a UN report
  • The Inquiry,on the BBC World Service, has produced a programme asking whether ‘the war on drugs’ has been lost, including interviews with a former Colombian president and a drugs prosecutor-turned-defence lawyer.