Newsbriefing – Week of 15 July

The Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin Guzman, also known as “El Chapo”, was sentenced to life in prison in the US. He formerly ran the Sinaloa cartel in northern Mexico, which was the biggest supplier of drugs to the US. He was accused of trafficking hundreds of tonnes of cocaine into the country.

A new aerial cocaine route has emerged between Venezuela and Mexico going thought Guatemala. In the first semester of 2019, Guatemala’s authorities seized 22 planes suspected of carrying drugs, a majority of which came from Venezuela. Planes land on hidden airstrips near the Guatemala-Mexico border, before being smuggled to the US. Drugs flights taking off from Venezuela have jumped to nearly one per day.

Organised crime groups in Mexico are increasingly recruiting children as cheap disposable labour, from 30.000 in 2015 to an estimated 460.000 children in 2018. They act as lookouts and informants, smuggle drugs and even carry out violent crimes.

In joint operation, FBI and Italian police launched a coordinated crackdown on a Sicilian mafia family. The organised crime group was trying to make a come back after years of being exiled in the US. 200 police arrested 18 suspects in Palermo and New York.

European law enforcement agencies will lose the ability to tap mobile devices used by organised crime groups with the launch of the 5G technology, warns Europol. EU member states do not yet have the domestic regulations nor technology to fill the gap that will open with the end of 4G networks. Europol is currently under discussion to double its 128 million euros budget by 2027, to revamp its cybercrime capabilities.

Joint operation between Moldovan and Ukrainian law enforcement seized around 300 small arms, 1.500 light weapons and 140.000 ammunitions with Europol support. The operation tackled illicit arms trafficking. A parallel public awareness campaign also led to the voluntary handing of over 2.000 illegally possessed firearms.

Brazilian police seized 50 kilos of cocaine hidden in boxes of soap powder in supermarket in Sao Paulo, Brazil.