Cocaine surge to Europe fueled by new gangs, violence-report

1 / 3
Drugs are incinerated at a military base in Pedro Brand, Santo Domingo province, Dominican Republic, on December 13, 2018. (AFP)
2 / 3
Experts make tests before the incineration of drugs at a military base in Pedro Brand, Santo Domingo province, Dominican Republic, on December 13, 2018. (AFP)
3 / 3
A policeman stands guard before the incineration of drug at a military base in Pedro Brand, Santo Domingo province, Dominican Republic, on December 13, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 14 December 2018
0

Cocaine surge to Europe fueled by new gangs, violence-report

  • The emergence of more gangs has led to new marketing and transport methods, such as by couriers who dispatch the cocaine to consumers who contact special, dedicated call centers

LISBON: New gangs are muscling into cocaine markets in Europe, setting up smuggling networks straight from producers in Latin America to consumers, a business which used to be dominated by the mafia, the Lisbon-based EU drugs agency said on Thursday.
In a study, which aimed to identify the causes of surging amounts of cocaine smuggled into Europe, the agency found that new gangs from the Balkans, Morocco and elsewhere were joining Italy’s mafia to supply Europe’s most popular stimulant drug.
Rising supplies of purer cocaine to Europe is mainly the result of growing production in Latin America, especially by the biggest producer, Colombia.
That has led to growing numbers of gangs setting up their own smuggling lines straight from producers, which has kept cocaine prices lower. New gangs now include Moroccans, who use their established smuggling routes for cannabis.
“The fragmentation of the cocaine trade in Europe appears to have resulted in increased competition among crime gangs for national and cross-border territories in cocaine supply and retail,” the report said. “One of the consequences has been an increase in violence and drug-related homicides.”
The emergence of more gangs has led to new marketing and transport methods, such as by couriers who dispatch the cocaine to consumers who contact special, dedicated call centers.
Such courier services exist in Britain, France and Belgium, where buyers get in touch with call centers located in Spain or the western Balkans, the report said.
“These new methods, reflecting an ‘Uberization’ of the cocaine trade, are clear signs of a competitive market in which sellers have to promote additional services beyond the product itself, such as fast delivery anywhere at any time,” it said.
The increasing supply of cocaine in Europe has coincided in the past few years with changes in traditional smuggling routes from Iberia to large ports in Belgium, France and Germany.
The port of Antwerp is now the single, biggest entry point for cocaine into Europe, with 41 tons seized in 2017. In 2016 70.9 tons of the drug was seized in all in Europe.
The report warned that the new smuggling routes through ports “may represent only the tip of the iceberg, as other routes and trafficking modes, such as private aviation, may simply go undetected.”


British envoy denies Iran summons over tanker attacks claim

Updated 16 June 2019
0

British envoy denies Iran summons over tanker attacks claim

  • “I asked for an urgent meeting with the Foreign Ministry yesterday and it was granted. No ‘summons’,” he said
  • Iran’s foreign ministry said the head of its European affairs Mahmoud Barimani met Macaire on Saturday

TEHRAN: Britain’s ambassador to Iran on Sunday denied he was summoned by the Iranian foreign ministry after London accused Tehran of “almost certainly” being responsible for tanker attacks in the Gulf.
“Interesting. And news to me,” ambassador Rob Macaire said in a tweet a day after the Iranian foreign ministry said in a statement that it had summoned the envoy over his government’s accusations.
“I asked for an urgent meeting with the Foreign Ministry yesterday and it was granted. No ‘summons’. Of course if formally summoned I would always respond, as would all Ambassadors,” Macaire wrote.
Iran’s foreign ministry said the head of its European affairs Mahmoud Barimani met Macaire on Saturday and “strongly protested against the unacceptable and anti-Iranian positions of the British government.”
On Friday, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said London had concluded Iran was “almost certainly” responsible for Thursday’s tanker attacks.
He was echoing remarks by US President Donald Trump who said Thursday’s attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman had Iran “written all over it.”
Iran has denied any involvement in the twin attacks.
It dismissed Hunt’s accusations as “false” and chided London for its “blind and precipitous alignment” with US views, according to the foreign ministry.
The latest incident comes as ties between Tehran and London have been strained in recent months, namely over the fate of a British-Iranian mother jailed in Iran on sedition charges.
London has repeatedly called for the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested in April 2016 as she was leaving Iran after taking their infant daughter to visit her family.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is serving a five-year sentence for allegedly trying to topple the Iranian government, has begun a hunger strike in protest at her detention, her husband said on Saturday.
She previously went on hunger strike in January.
Richard Ratcliffe urged the Iranian authorities to immediately release his wife and to allow the British embassy to check on her health, and also asked they grant him a visa to visit her.
On Saturday he also stood outside Iran’s London embassy and said he would maintain his own hunger strike and vigil for as long as his wife refused food.