HomeNewsBriefMexican Cartels Expanding Influence in Europe: Europol
BRIEF

Mexican Cartels Expanding Influence in Europe: Europol

COLOMBIA / 1 FEB 2013 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

The latest report from the European Police Office describes increasingly diverse and complex trafficking routes and criminal ties between the Americas and Europe, and raises the specter of the increasing influence of Mexican cartels.

According to Europol’s analysis of the European Union drugs market, Colombian criminal groups with a firmly established presence in Europe, continue to play a key role in cocaine trafficking in the region. However, the ever more fragmented nature of Colombian organized crime has created opportunities for groups from Europe and elsewhere in the Americas to develop new relationships. Increasingly, these partnerships involve European groups working with Mexican cartels, although the extent of the cartels' presence is difficult to assess, the report states.

In an interview with Reforma, Europol Director Rob Wainwright expressed concern that the advance of Mexican groups may lead to an increase in violence in the region. "It is a risk that we are very worried about, taking into account the scale of violence that exists between Mexico's drug clans," he said. "We don’t want to see something similar reproduced in Europe."  

The report also highlighted patterns in trafficking routes. According to Europol the largest quantities of cocaine are transported by sea through three principal routes: the northern route, which passes through the Caribbean and the Azores to Portugal and Spain; the central route, which departs from South American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela to Europe via Cape Verde or Madeira and the Canary Islands; and the African route, which departs from South America to West Africa, then on to Europe. Africa's role in supplying Europe's cocaine has increased substantially in recent years and the trade is expanding into East and Southern Africa, the report added.

While many of these are well-established routes, the report also highlighted a significant growth in trafficking through the Black Sea and the Balkans, which only accounts for a tiny percentage of cocaine trafficked but is growing rapidly, and singles out the Eastern Baltic Sea area as potentially the next emerging cocaine entry point.

InSight Crime Analysis

Wainwright’s fears of Mexican-style drug violence arriving in Europe seem somewhat overstated. The report suggests Mexican cartels may be increasing their presence but remain minority players. It should also be noted that the criminal dynamic in Europe is very different to the Americas, as shown by the fact that the presence of Colombian cartels has never caused Colombian levels of violence in Europe.

In fact, the trends highlighted by the report suggest a move away from involvement of monolithic groups dominating regions and toward fluid networks where European groups are playing an increasingly significant role. This trend could bring its own problems for European law enforcement, as the diversification and expansion of these trafficking networks could make the job of agencies like Europol substantially more difficult.

*Map is from: Daniel Brombacher & Gunther Maihold, "El Negocio Transatlantico de la Cocaina: Opciones Europeas ante las Nuevas Rutas del Narcotrafico," Real Instituto Elcano (RIE), RIE Working Paper 45, September 2009.

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

COCAÍNA / 16 MAR 2022

The recent arrests of women transporting cocaine in fake pregnancy bellies, show that human couriers, an old method employed by…

AUC / 26 OCT 2021

Accused Colombian trafficker Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias “Otoniel,” has been on the radar of US prosecutors for more than a…

CANADA / 13 DEC 2021

The story of the Mexican cartels and their influence abroad has mostly focused on the United States. But a number…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…