Spanish security forces have intercepted a boat crewed by Europeans carrying drugs from the Caribbean to Spain, in another sign that European criminal organizations are moving up the cocaine trafficking value chain.
Police intercepted the boat close to the Azorean Islands, seizing approximately 800 kilos of cocaine and arresting four people: two Estonians, one Serb and a Spaniard (see video of the raid here).
Following the interception, 11 more people were arrested in the south of Spain in connection with the operation.
The operation to dismantle the trafficking began several years before, reported El Universal. Authorities tracked three suspects and the boat from the Spanish island of Tenerife to Grenada in the Caribbean. From Grenada the suspects made various trips to Venezuela, apparently to negotiate the drug purchase.
InSight Crime Analysis
The captured traffickers were following a well beaten path for drug shipments -- the Iberian Peninsula is and has been for some years the main portal for drugs entering Europe and the Spanish islands are used as convenient unloading points.
However, it is significant that the transporters were themselves European. In recent years there have been increasing signs that European organized crime groups are no longer content to receive shipments in Europe from Latin American counterparts, and are now establishing their own networks closer to the source.
Eastern European groups have been at the forefront of this criminal migration. In addition to the Eastern Europeans arrested in connection with the latest seizures, there have been the cases of a trafficking ring with ties to Poland, Ukraine, and Lithuania dismantled in Ecuador, and the Serbian/Croatian network headed by Darco Saric, which moved cocaine from Argentina to Europe.
This is supported by the last drug trafficking report of European police agency Europol, which noted both the increase in use of Europeans to transport cocaine and the increasing presence of European organized crime groups in Latin America, particularly Eastern Europeans and Italian mafia groups.