Transatlantic drug trade:
Europe, Latin America and the need to strengthen anti-narcotics cooperation
Mikael Wigell & Mauricio Romero
The Finnish Institute of International Affairs
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The cocaine business has changed significantly in recent
years. Once concentrated in Colombia, it has now expanded to the entire Latin
American region with Brazil, Mexico, Central America, and Venezuela having
become central corridors for the illegal traffic.
As the market for cocaine has been contracting in North
America, Latin American drug networks have switched their attention to Europe,
which is now the world’s fastest growing market for cocaine.
The cocaine enters Europe mainly by exploiting the
legitimate container trade. Most shipments continue to be directed to Western
Europe, but recently the illicit trade has been expanding eastward with new
entry points opening up in the Black Sea and Balkan area. There are also
indications of a possible new entry point in the Eastern Baltic Sea area.
Not only are Latin American criminal organizations expanding
their activities on the European drug market, but they are also exploiting the
European financial crisis to launder their profits and move into other branches
of the economy.
The growing transatlantic cocaine trade calls for improving
inter-regional counter-narcotics cooperation. Concrete steps should be taken to
promote stronger links between anti-drugs programmes, development cooperation
and public security policies on both sides of the Atlantic.