HomeNewsBriefMaritime Seizures of LatAm Cocaine Shipments to Spain on the Rise
BRIEF

Maritime Seizures of LatAm Cocaine Shipments to Spain on the Rise

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 14 JUN 2017 BY LEONARDO GOI EN

Authorities in Spain say they have seen a marked increase in maritime seizures of South American cocaine destined for Europe in the past two years, highlighting the importance of this simple but efficient drug trafficking method.

Spanish authorities told El Confidencial that maritime drug shipments “have multiplied considerably” in the last two years, with most coming from Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil and the Caribbean.

Indeed, in just the past two months, the anti-drug and organized crime unit of Spain’s police, in partnership with other anti-narcotic agencies, has seized nearly nine metric tons of Spain-bound cocaine.

The amount was collected during three separate operations. The first took place on May 4 and led to the seizure of approximately 2.4 tons of cocaine in the Atlantic Ocean aboard a Venezuelan fishing boat.

The second — and largest — took place on May 15, when over 5.5 tons of cocaine were seized aboard a cargo ship in Ecuador’s national waters. According to Spanish authorities, who coordinated the operation with Ecuador’s police, the ship was due to cross the Panama Canal before heading to Spain.

The latest incident took place on June 4, when 1.2 tons of cocaine were seized aboard another Spain-bound Venezuelan ship sailing on the Atlantic.

Spain’s Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido stated that the recent seizures “show that the fight against drug trafficking and the international organizations that bring drugs from Latin America to Spain is yielding results.”

“We shall not stop until we dismantle all groups trying to smuggle narcotics into Spain,” he added.

InSight Crime Analysis

The recent multi-ton Spain-bound cocaine seizures serve as a reminder of the importance of maritime smuggling for drug traffickers. This is particularly true in the case of cocaine; Ana Lilia Pérez, author of the book “Seas of Cocaine,” estimates that some 70 to 80 percent of cocaine consumed globally is at some point trafficked by boat.

According to the US State Department’s 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, booming cocaine production in the Andean region has led to an increase in the amount of cocaine flowing globally, and a parallel growth in the amount of narcotics being smuggled via both the Atlantic as well as the Pacific.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Criminal Migration

As InSight Crime has previously noted, drug trafficking organizations in Colombia — the world’s biggest producer of cocaine — appear to have increased their smuggling operations via the Pacific as a result of crackdowns on drug vessels leaving through the Caribbean. Indeed, the percentage of cocaine seized in Colombia’s Pacific departments reached 44 percent in 2016, compared to 21 percent in 2014.

Still, the Atlantic is a more efficient route for shipments to Europe, and the recent seizures by Spanish authorities underscore the importance of not only Colombia, but also Venezuela and the Caribbean as crucial transit zones.

However, it is Brazil that is the principal departure point for the bulk of South American cocaine destined to European, African and Asian markets. According to some estimates, the port of Santos in the state of São Paulo is the departure point for as much as 80 percent of the cocaine that reaches Europe.  

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

COCA / 13 JUN 2017

Officials believe a coca plantation recently discovered in Honduras was set up by Colombians, suggesting a criminal migration that could…

BOLIVIA / 24 JUL 2017

Authorities in Bolivia and Brazil will enter into a bilateral agreement later this month aimed at combating the expansion…

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 26 JUN 2014

Why is Latin America and the Caribbean so violent? InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley gave his answer at a recent…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…