The Cocaine Pipeline to Europe

COCAINE / 9 FEB 2021

When Mexico’s drug cartels forced Colombian traffickers out of the US cocaine market, they seized control of the most coveted prize in the global drug trade. But the smartest traffickers soon began to turn elsewhere, to a market where the profits were higher, the risks were lower and the potential for growth was immense. They turned to Europe.

Today, Europe is arguably the most attractive cocaine market in the world, and its size and importance only continues to grow. This series, which is the product of field work and investigations over two years in more than 10 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe, traces the evolution of the European cocaine trade and the Latin American and European criminal networks that have shaped it.

Chapter 1

Cocaine to Europe: An Underestimated Threat

COCAINE / 9 FEB 2021

Over the last five years, the cocaine trade has enjoyed an unprecedented boom, with production levels at record highs.

Chapter 2

The Colombian Cocaine Shift to Europe: the Business No-Brainer

COCAINE / 9 FEB 2021

In September 1989, Los Angeles police broke open the cheap padlock that was the only security on a warehouse in the northern suburb of Sylmar.

Chapter 3

Spain: The European Base for Latin American Organized Crime

COCAINE / 9 FEB 2021

On April 30, 1984, the Mercedes taking Colombian Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara Bonilla home after work was strafed with machine gun fire.

Chapter 4

The Italian Mafia and the Move Upstream

AUC / 9 FEB 2021

Operation ‘Tiburón Galloway’ began as a local investigation by prosecutors in the Italian region of Calabria in 2001, but quickly snowballed into a multinational, multiagency investigation.

Chapter 5

Cocaine – The Criminal Steroid

COCAINE / 9 FEB 2021

Cocaine is a criminal steroid. Those that gain access to its riches enjoy accelerated growth and power – quickly – usually leaving a trail of violence and corruption in their…

Chapter 6

Container Shipping: Cocaine Hide and Seek

BRAZIL / 9 FEB 2021

It was around 5 a.m. when the MSC Gayane cargo freighter docked in the port of Philadelphia on June 17, 2019. Instead of continuing on to its scheduled destination –…

Chapter 7

The Rise of “Plata” over “Plomo:” The Cancer of Corruption

COCAINE / 9 FEB 2021

In July 2020, British drug trafficker Robert Dawes was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in one of the most emblematic European drug trafficking cases of the…

Chapter 8

The Future of the Cocaine Trade to Europe

COCAINE / 9 FEB 2021

The flow of cocaine to Europe may have suffered along with most licit businesses due to the Covid-19 crisis, but few believe the damage to the drug trade will be…

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