Australian police arrested two men on suspicion of trafficking narcotics from Mexico to Melbourne, a reminder of the growing importance of the country's cocaine market, which is dominated by Mexican groups with ties to local gangs.
On November 8, police in Melbourne arrested two men in different parts of the city on suspicion of belonging to an international drug trafficking ring with ties to Mexican gangs, reported the Herald Sun. One of the men detained is a senior member of the Comanchero Motorcycle Club, a biker gang.
The police operation was the result of a 16-month investigation involving the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and also saw the seizure of $30,000 in cash, 2,400 pills and some 350 grams of an unidentified white powder.
Stephen Fontana, police assistant commissioner, told press that the narcotics were shipped into Australia on flights from the United States.
Australian Crime Commission intervention manager Warren Gray added that there is a deepening alliance between Mexican drug cartels and Australian bike gangs, reported The Age.
InSight Crime Analysis
Mexico's powerful Sinaloa Cartel is thought to have a major stake in Australia's expanding cocaine market. Earlier this year, DEA intelligence chief Rodney Benson identified the group as the main Mexican supplier to Australia, working with smaller domestic gangs -- Lebanese, Chinese and bike gangs -- who control the distribution.
Australia is a highly attractive market for Latin American transnational groups thanks to its growing population of cocaine users. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2012 World Drug Report, the prevalence of cocaine use grew from 1.4-1.7 percent in 2009 to 1.5-1.9 in 2010. North America had a rate of 1.6 percent in 2010.
In addition to this, Australia has extremely high cocaine prices; the wholesale price for a kilogram of cocaine in Australia can go up to $250,000, compared to a maximum of $70,000 in the United States.