HomeNewsBriefLatAm Drug Groups Entering 'Second Stage' in Middle East: NGO
BRIEF

LatAm Drug Groups Entering 'Second Stage' in Middle East: NGO

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 25 FEB 2014 BY CHARLES PARKINSON EN

Organized criminal groups from Latin America are becoming increasingly entrenched in both the Middle East and Asia, a trend which has developed as their presence has grown in Africa, according to a prominent security analyst.

Speaking to United Arab Emirates (UAE) newspaper Khaleej Times, Johan Obdola -- president of the non-governmental organization the International Organization for Security and Intelligence -- said criminal groups from countries including Colombia and Mexico had now entered "their second stage of their operations" in the Middle East. He said they were attempting to use the UAE as a drug trafficking and money laundering hub.

According to Obdola, these groups have built up their presence as they have become more entrenched in Africa, which has acted as a platform for them to expand into the emerging markets of the Middle East and Asia. Obdola said the zero income tax policy in the region made it particularly attractive for money laundering.

Obdola’s statements were supported by Lieutenant-General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chairman of Police and Security in Dubai, who told Khaleej Times 75 percent of drug seizures at Dubai airports were linked to cocaine or heroin originating in Latin America. He also noted a growth in money laundering, which he said was linked to international drug smuggling.

Khalfan added that Latin American drug traffickers often employed Africans or Asians, especially women, to act as mules.

InSight Crime Analysis

This is the latest report of heightened activity from Latin American organized crime in the Middle East, after Obdola himself called for a regional plan to combat the threat during a September 2013 security convention in Qatar.

There have not yet been any reports of a significant Latin American organized crime cell dismantled in the region, but during that summit Obdola suggested there was a Mexican criminal group established in Qatar. A recent drug smuggling attempt detected by Dubai authorities, meanwhile, involved African, Asian and Latin American operatives.

While there has been concern over the connections between some Latin American illegal armed groups with Middle East terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Al Qaeda -- who have allegedly simultaneously expanded their presence in Latin America -- thus far the connections appear to be limited to business.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Criminal Migration

The suggestion that the Latin American criminal presence in the Middle East has grown as such groups have become more established in Africa is feasible. This migration into West Africa has been noted as atomization and stiff competition for profits has pushed criminal groups to seek new markets, drug supply routes and revenue streams.

While penalties for drug offenses in the Middle East remain extremely harsh, the burgeoning and affluent expat community in places like Dubai -- where a kilo of cocaine is estimated to sell for $90,000 -- could provide a highly lucrative market. This is almost twice the price in Europe and around three times what it would fetch in the United States.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CARTEL OF THE SUNS / 1 SEP 2022

InSight Crime charts the history of cocaine from agricultural extract to the basis of global criminal empires.

COCAINE / 4 MAY 2022

A shootout involving French police and suspected cocaine traffickers in the northern city port of Le Havre has dramatically underscored…

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 25 JUN 2021

Prosecutors in Honduras say they will ask Nicaragua to extradite an alleged MS13 leader who has been on the lam…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…