Thousands of kilos are coming through Algeciras port, hidden among bananas, frozen chickens or simply stuffed in backpacks.
And it’s thanks to growing British and Spanish demand that there is more of the A-Class drug in circulation than ever before.
According to a United Nations Office on Drug and Crime report, released last week, more than an unprecedented 1,000 tonnes of the white powder were seized in 2016 – the last year figures are available for.
“It is an avalanche, massive amounts are coming in,” an officer from Spain’s Special Response Team against Organized Crime (GRECO) told El Pais.
“We have never seen anything like this.”
Meanwhile, drug dealers are having problems with the overflow of cocaine.
“There’s too much of it,” a Galician dealer told El Pais in an anonymous interview, “there’s more cocaine than is needed.
“There are warehouses right now in Madrid and Sevilla where it’s just piling up.”
He claimed that a kilogram is now being sold for €27,000 to €28,000 – it used to sell for up to €35,000.
Most of the drug is being shipped from Colombia, the source of 68% of the world’s coca crops.
The peace between the government there and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) means the latter’s forces have demobilised and left large hectares of land up for grabs, and drug traffickers have swooped in.
Meanwhile, the instability in neighbouring Venezuela has meant a collapse in the border, making it far easier for the drug to leave Colombia.
“There’s also been a change in criminal structures,” Ignacio de Lucas, an anti-drug prosecutor at Spain’s High Court, also told El Pais.
“They don’t have such strict hierarchies as before. They’re not mafias but rather a kind of franchise with more flexible and dynamic structures, with people who come and go, and this has made it very difficult to charge them as a criminal organisation.”
The UK and Spain continue to be the among the top four markets for cocaine in the world, where 2.3% and 2% of the population enjoy the drug respectively.
Javier Cortés, head of Valencia’s Customs Surveillance Service (SVA), meanwhile, described ports like Valencia as ‘black holes’.
“We need to pay more attention to businesses – almost always from Latin America – that are specifically created to import cocaine,” the SVA officer told El Pais, referring to the fruit and fish businesses that use legal commercial channels to import the drugs.
“We all know that we are never going to win the fight against drug trafficking, so we have to prioritize.
“Either we go after the small-time drug dealer on the corner or we go after the big organisations. Not Spain nor any other country has the resources to do everything.”
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