Busted at the Sea
Vast blue waters and open fresh air. Nothing out of the ordinary here except a Croatian-flagged sailing boat 163 km west of La Palma, the Canary Islands carrying just under a tonne of cocaine organised into 980 1kg packets with an estimated market value of over 40 million euros.
The ship, manned by three Croatian nationals from the cell of the Balkan cartel now in police custody, was intercepted on Saturday in the area of international waters described as the "new African maritime route for international drug trafficking." Its final destination, Spain and Croatia.
Eyes on Africa
According to drug trafficking authorities, today, the main concern and the new challenge is Africa as Colombian and Venezuelan drug traffickers have established a long-term and solid presence on the continent, in the Gulf of Guinea, West Africa — setting up legal cover businesses, fisheries, canneries as a cover for their illegal activities so as to have fleets that enable operate large cargos across high seas.
In addition, with the local complicity of the political or military apparatus on the African continent, the cocaine is also stored on the African continent as an integrated operation enables the drug’s movement by air and land notably via the Sahel-Saharan strip, which crosses the north of Niger, Mali and the south of Algeria — and ultimately finds its way back to the cannabis route and the Mediterranean.
The current Covid-19 pandemic has made it so that routine health checks at various South American ports have jeopardised the plans of the traffickers, who are forced to receive the drugs off the African coast of the Gulf of Guinea, according to the Spanish Civil Guard.
But only time will tell how this New maritime African drug highway operation will be policed and shut down by international authorities.