Newsbriefing – Week of 6 January


In the era of trade globalisation, the use of containers at sea has become and remains the most efficient way to smuggle illicit drugs. Container ships have doubled in size and can therefore carry more containers than 10 years ago and pressure to deliver the shipments on time has increased. Comparatively and proportionately speaking, fewer containers are checked nowadays whilst logistical port modernisation has increased efficiency to save operational time and running costs. One effect of globalisation is that sending a container is cheaper now than it was some years ago. The trend of trafficking more illicit drugs via shipping containers continues and Europe remains an attractive target market for Latin American Drug Trafficking Organisations, over and above the USA drugs market, as the European street price for illicit drugs is higher and thus entails a higher profit margin.

Costa-Rican authorities seized almost a tonne of cocaine in two separate operations. The first seizure was made from a crew-less sports type fishing vessel whilst the second seizure took place in collaboration with American authorities who gave information about a semi-submersible on the Costa-Rican coastline.

More and more narco-submarines may be seized in 2020 as this method has become more common amongst traffickers smuggling illicit drugs from Latin America to the United States. Such methodology is underpinned by the high availability of Colombian cocaine due to production levels remaining at a record high for the past couple of years.

825 kg of cocaine were seized by the Portuguese authorities in a shipment of bananas shipped from Latin America.

The Montenegrin police discovered and stopped a human trafficking ring in which a hundred Taiwanese citizens had been held captive and forced to commit cyber fraud targeting China and Taiwan. Eight suspects were arrested and the investigation is still ongoing.