Newsbriefing – Week of 10 February


14 alleged members of a drug trafficking gang were arrested by the Spanish police in Catalonia following an investigation that started in December 2018 after the discovery and seizure of a large quantity of cocaine in boxes of A4 paper shipped from Brazil. The gang were thought to be laundering the profit of their trafficking in real estate through fashion stores in Catalonia.

The European Commission has introduced a new set of rules with regards to free ports in the European Union. Free ports are a type of special economic zone where business and trade laws differ from those in the rest of a country and where goods are not subject to customs duty. Free ports constitute a risk for the European Union as they may facilitate organised crime activity (drug trafficking, illegal ivory trade, people smuggling, money laundering, etc).

The Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC – First Capital Command) has become Brazil’s most powerful gang and has, over the past few years, become a transnational criminal organisation. Now expanding to Paraguay, the PCC formed in prisons as a self protection mechanism to combat internal brutality. The PCC has also started recruiting members along the borders with Bolivia and to some extent, Argentina.

5 tonnes of cocaine were seized in Costa Rica. This is the biggest seizure ever recorded in the country. The drugs were hidden in a consignment of flowers destined for the port of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.