News briefings – Week of 14 August

  • Brazilian armed security forces conducted another raid in Rio de Janeiro. About 2.500 police officers and military personnel were deployed in the city of Niteroi to strike organised crime and violence which have been on the rise in Rio since the end of the Olympics in 2016.
  • According to the U.S. Coast Guard, a wave of cocaine may be about to hit the United States and the global market, following the recent increase in coca production in Colombia. Smugglers have also adopted new techniques, including the use of low-profile semi-submersibles which are harder to sport and can carry tons of cocaine.
  • The last batch of weapons carried by FARC rebels was turned over to the Colombian government, putting an end to the armed conflict in the country. About 7.000 rebels are about to be reintegrated into society. The ex-guerrilla group will also be politically represented in Congress.
  • Between 600 and 700 human bone fragments were found in a mass grave outside the Mexican city of Tijuana, near the U.S. border. This is likely the work of drug cartels and criminal organisations: since 2006, more than 186.000 people have been murdered and another 30,000 have gone missing in Mexico.
  • Alvaro Lopez Nuñez, brother of a leader of the powerful Sinaloa cartel, was indicted on drug smuggling after his arrest in Nogales, at the border between Mexico and the USA. His arrest follows that of his nephew, Damaso Lopez Serrano, who turned himself to U.S. authorities at the end of July.
  • INTERPOL seized more than 1.5 tonnes of illegal waste during a global operation involving 43 countries. The action took place during the month of June and is the largest global anti-pollution operation ever. The bulk of the illegal waste discovered was related to the car industry, mostly exported from Europe and North America to Asia and Africa.
  • Banks based in Uruguay have started to refuse to deal with pharmacies selling marijuana, legally allowed in the country since last July, for fear of receiving money tied to the drug trade or money laundering. Authorities are meeting with the pharmacies to find out how many have been warned by banks.
  • Tunisia will build a wall equipped with an electronic sensor system to stop terrorism and reinforce domestic security at the border with Libya. The border is a transit point for organised crime and terrorist groups to smuggle illicit goods, including weapons. The first portion of the wall will stretch from Ras Ajdir to the Dahiba border.
  • According to a study conducted by the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health, caffeine-loaded energy drinks could lead to cocaine, NPS and alcohol use amongst young adults if the consumption of these drinks is sustained over time.