25 Dec, 2023 @ 10:00
1 min read

Spain is Europe’s cocaine gateway of choice for the Kinahans and Europe’s new ‘super cartels’, according to Europol conference

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The Kinahans used to run the cocaine trade in southern Spain are believed to have moved to the Middle East following a crackdown from a joint operation between Ireland's Gardai and Spain's Guardia Civil

SPAIN’S role as a pivotal gateway for cocaine entering Europe was a key talking point at a conference of Europe’s top anti-drug enforcers.

It was a stark conclusion of Europol’s 7th European Annual Drugs Conference at the Hague, which highlighted Spain’s strategic location and the efficiency of its port infrastructure.

The conference brought together high-ranking officials, experts, and representatives from diverse law enforcement agencies across Europe to put their heads together against the escalating threat of drug importation into Europe.

Much of it is facilitated by the plata o plomo – corruption and intimidation – approach of highly violent crime groups towards Spanish port workers.

Disparate drug cartels from both Europe and South America – but based in Dubai, including the notorious Kinahan cartel – are collaborating and pooling their resources to form ‘super cartels.’

The result has been a surge in the flow of both cocaine and methamphetamine to European markets, with much of it coming through the key nodes of Spain, Holland and Belgium.

Europol’s 7th European Annual Drugs Conference
Europol’s 7th European Annual Drugs Conference

Among the topics discussed were EU drug policy developments, emerging routes, logistical hubs such as port infrastructure, operational trends and threats, as well as key international cases.

The conference noted that the cocaine market in the European Union has exploded in recent years, with an estimated value of at least €10.5 billion in 2020 – and probably significantly larger just three years later.

A record 303 tonnes of cocaine was seized by EU Member States in 2021, and 2023 will likely break that record.

This year has already seen individual record seizures in both Belgium and Spain through the port of Algeciras, at 30 tonnes and nine tonnes respectively.

Spanish police announced the seizure of 11 tonnes of cocaine in November and early December alone, originating from Colombia, transiting through Ecuador and intercepted at the ports of Vigo and Valencia.

The busts led to the arrest of 20 individuals, which included a mix of nationalities but predominantly Albanian. 

The group also comprised a Colombian, a Dominican, and several Spaniards, among them a Galician entrepreneur who used his fish import business as a front for drug transportation.


Walter Finch

Walter - or Walt to most people - is a former and sometimes still photographer and filmmaker who likes to dig under the surface.
A NCTJ-trained journalist, he came to the Costa del Sol - Gibraltar hotspot from the Daily Mail in 2022 to report on organised crime, corruption, financial fraud and a little bit of whatever is going on.
Got a story? walter@theolivepress.es

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