News Briefing – Week of 25 May

25/05/2020 – Moroccan authorities are analysing seizures made in 2019It is reported that 119 tonnes of cannabis were seized as well as 13.5 million cigarettes and 680 000 pills that indicate psychotropic substances.


25/05/2020 – The Colombian army discovered 516kgs of cocaine hidden in 5 plastic containers. It is believed that the now seized drugs were destined for Mexico and the United States.


25/05/2020 – In the context of the conflict between the Hausa and Fulani ethnic groups, criminals in Northern Nigeria are involved in various organised crime activities including: the trade of weapons, cattle rustling and, increasingly, kidnap for ransom and armed robbery. Organised criminal activity is exacerbated as the border with Niger is considered porous, allowing undetected passage of criminals and goods. The International Crisis Group fears the situation might worsen with the resurgence of jihadi groups in the region.


25/05/2020 – The murder of a former Honduran congressman, suspected of being associated to drug trafficking organisations, suggests a shift in criminal power as groups try to control the cocaine trafficking route from Western Honduras to Guatemala. Due to its geographical location, Honduras is a major transit country and corridor for trafficking cocaine into central America.


26/05/2020- Colombia’s top prosecutor revealed that business man Guillermo León Acevedo Giraldo, based in Madrid, is suspected of being the drug lord and paramilitary commander known as “Memo Fantasma”. This claim is made as a result of of a financial investigation into Memo Fantasma’s assets.


26/05/2020 – South Africa has established a ban on the sale of cigarettes and alcohol as part of national lockdown measures.The government eased the restriction on the sale of alcohol whilst the ban on the sale of cigarettes remained. As a consequence, the illicit trade of cigarettes skyrocketed.


27/05/2020 – Law enforcement and judicial authorities from Belgium and France, supported by EUROPOL and EUROJUST, dismantled a large criminal network involved in migrant smuggling. 26 suspects in France and Belgium were arrested and 21 irregular migrants were liberated. The operation tracked the criminal activity of people smuggling across the continent and was prompted by the tragic discovery of 39 deceased Vietnamese nationals inside a refrigerated lorry in Essex in the United Kingdom in October 2019.


27/05/2020 – Underlining that combating illicit trade was never the key function of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as it is not a crime-related convention, it is suggested that illicit wildlife trafficking could be addressed more efficiently thanks to the adoption of specific regulations on wet markets in each country.


27/05/2020 – Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport have prevented an attempt to smuggle more than 170 kilos of heroin into the UK. The drugs were found in a freight consignment consisting of 630 commercial boxes of fruit and nuts and were hidden in envelopes concealed in the walls of the cardboard box containers.


27/05/2020 – The Bulgarian police seized about 360 kg of cocaine in an apartment in Sofia. This seizure followed a routine vehicle stop where 40kgs was discovered leading the police to searching the drivers home address.   


27/05/2020 – In Breda, the Netherlands, Dutch Police arrested an alleged member of the Bosnian criminal organisation “Tito and Dino clan” as well as his wife for offences relating to money laundering. The Tito and Dino clan has long been suspected of running a cocaine trafficking ring between Latin America and Europe.


28/05/2020 – Recent European cocaine seizures on board of ships travelling from Guatemala and Honduras demonstrate the difficulties in securing maritime shipping operations along the northern stretch of Central America’s Caribbean coast as well showing the increasing relevance of those countries as transit hubs for cocaine trafficking to Europe.


28/05/2020 – 1.7 tonnes of cannabis as seized by French authorities on Tuesday 26 May. This makes the total of cannabis seized over the past 15 days, in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region, southern France, to 3.6 tonnes. Illicit trafficking in this Spanish border region has risen due to the relaxing of lockdown measures in France. The authorities are worried about the increased risks from overdose.


30/05/2020 – 50 tonnes of cocaine was seized during the fifth iteration of the Colombian led ‘Operation ORION V‘. Orion V took place over 45 days between April and May 15 and saw the collaboration of 25 countries determined to collaborate and combine resources to combat cocaine trafficking. The operation saw the arrest of the arrest of 150 suspects as well as the seizure and confiscation of maritime assets.