Newsbriefing – Week of 11 March

On Monday, the U.S Customs and Border Protection announced the seizure of 1.5 tonnes of cocaine, the biggest shipment of cocaine seized in New York and New Jersey in 25 years, in the Port of New York-Newark. The cocaine, which has an estimated street value of $77 million, was hidden in a shipping container originating from South America.

Europol announced the results of the operation MISMED 2 which concluded with the seizure of 1.8 tonnes of trafficked medicines, the exposure of 24 organised crime groups, 435 arrests and the recovery of $3.59 million of criminal assets. The operation was carried out from April 2018 to October 2018 and it gathered law enforcement and customs authorities from 16 European countries.

Between 2012 and 2017, nearly 10 tonnes of cocaine were seized at the Moín port terminal in Limón, Costa Rica. The port of Moín is particularly vulnerable to drug-trafficking because its scanning equipment has been dysfunctional since 2016, thus forcing the human inspection of the containers.The city of Limón is strategically located to receive shipments from northern Colombian ports, and to send them to Europe.

The 62nd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was opened on March 14, 2019 at the UNODC headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Bolivian President Evo Morales was among the high-level participants attending the general debate on March 14 and 15.

Experts are urging governments to address the deforestation of the Amazon as a priority to fight climate change. The Amazon is particularly vulnerable to the activities of organised crime groups involved in illegal mining, logging and crop-cultivation. According to the Igarapé Institute, between 50% and 80% of deforestation in the Amazon is due to illegal activities.

A new cocaine trafficking route linking the Brazilian port of Natal and the port of Rotterdam in the Netherland has been identified. In four months, more than 3 tonnes of cocaine heading to Rotterdam were seized in Natal, and 7 tonnes of cocaine coming from Natal port were apprehended in Rotterdam. The seizures, both in the Netherland and Brazil indicate a similar modus operandi: hidding cocaine packages among fruit boxes.