Newsbriefing – Week of 1 July

The price of opium dropped by 90 percent over the past year and a half in Mexico, due to speculation, high heroin production and changes in the supply and demand of illegal drugs in the US. Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate, is increasingly replacing heroin. This is driving farmers away from poppy cultivation.

Mexican law enforcement is in crisis as federal police are protesting against plans to integrate them into the newly formed National Guard, a civilian security force whose hierarchy is heavily military. The federal police have been characterized by the president as a failed security force and gave the military the bulk of the responsibility for the National Guard, Mexico’s new force against organised crime.

The traffic of illegal cigarettes is increasing in the Southern Cone. Contraband cigarettes now represent half of the sales in Brazil. The loss in tax revenue for 2018 is estimated around $3 billion. From 2017 to 2018, seizures in Argentina have increased by 245 percent, costing the government about $200M in lost taxes in 2017.

In a joint action, Eurojust, Italian and Serbian authorities have dismantled a transnational large-scale fraud involving fake organic food. The organised crime group produced food dangerous for public health and falsely sold it as organic food. Almost two tonnes of adulterated products valued around 5 million euros were seized.