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Mexican cartels and EU criminals cooperate to smuggle drugs to Europe and beyond-report


2022-12-14T16:22:24Z

(Reuters) – Mexican cartels and criminal groups in the European Union work together to traffic methamphetamine and cocaine from Latin America to Europe, according to a report published on Wednesday by Europol and the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration.

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FILE PHOTO: Members of a special unit of the Mexican Army leave a military zone to patrol as part of an operation to increase security after cartel gunmen clashed with federal forces, resulting in the release of Ovidio Guzman from detention, the son of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, in Culiacan, in Sinaloa state, Mexico October 20, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

According to the report, the first such joint initiative involving both agencies, both Mexico-based criminal gangs and their European counterparts corrupt officials in the public and private sectors to help smuggle drugs.

Criminals also infiltrate transport and trade companies to conceal shipments, or set up their own firms with the help of individuals who hide their identity, it said.

Enforcement agency Europol and drugs agency EMCDDA had warned in May that Europe was increasingly becoming a hub for the production of cocaine as well as a transit point for shipping it to other regions of the world, driven by higher production in South America and increasing capabilities to process the raw drug in the European continent itself.

Shipped by cartels to Europe through sea or air cargo, drugs are typically concealed in food, construction materials and commodities like water filters and wooden doorframes, the report released Wednesday said. Once they arrive in the EU, local criminal networks move them to final destinations in Europe and beyond.

For methamphetamine, the destination is often likely outside the EU, which becomes just a transit point, before the drugs are shipped to more profitable markets in Oceania and Asia, the report said.

“Some indications have pointed to Mexican criminal groups being involved in the operation of cocaine conversion laboratories on the territory of the EU,” the reports says, adding there was also a risk that the illicit cooperation could target other drugs.

Top Mexican cartels like Sinaloa and Jalisco Nueva Generacion have large areas of influence within Mexico and engage in brutal violence for control of drug routes.

In February 2020, Italian authorities had uncovered a drug trafficking operation by the Sinaloa members and their EU-based associates. The Netherlands, Belgium and Spain have also dismantled illicit production facilities involving Mexican nationals in recent years, the report said.

A greater presence of the cartels on EU soil could usher in more violence and higher profits for the Mexican criminal networks, the report warned.