Namely, one route is Barranquilla to Altamira, as there has been a notable increase in the finding of cocaine on vessels trading from Colombia to Mexico.

In most of the cases, bulk carriers have been targeted. The drugs, in the form of packaged cocaine were buried within the cargo and were only discovered during discharge operations.

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Moreover, reports indicate that a favored method of secreting drugs onto the vessel is by placing them on loading conveyors, making it extremely difficult to be detected by crew.

Several vessels have been detained and crew arrested by police, as the Mexican authorities are taking strong action upon the discovery of drugs.

For instance, in September, the Mexican Naval Forces busted two packages containing cocaine from a cargoship in Altamira port, Mexico. According to the navy, the forces located 49 kg among iron ore at the carrier's cargo hold.

According to local sources, the Cyprus-flagged general cargo vessel arrived at the port of Altamira from Colombia's Barranquilla port. After arriving at the port, the vessel was inspected and the authorities located the drugs in the bulk carrier’s cargo hold that was loaded with iron ore. The Mexican Naval forces continued supervising the discharge of the ship’s cargo in order to rule out the possibility of more hidden packages.

Further to this, another recent spike in incidents concerns the smuggling of cocaine from Ecuadorian ports; drugs have been found at discharge in ports in Turkey and Algeria.

Last May, Algerian authorities captured around 700kg of cocaine that was smuggled onboard a containership, which was located at the Port of Oran. As a result, the authorities also made 20 arrests.

According to sources, the Liberian-flagged containership, "Vega Mercury", was carrying frozen meat from Brazil, and the drugs were found inside one of those containers. The vessel, which had previously docked in Valencia, Spain, was planned to offload in Algeria's Port of Oran. However, suspicions were raised when the captain refused to dock for three days.

Earlier this year, the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) published a report on the increasing drug use in Europe, Norway and Turkey, highlighting that Europe’s cocaine market continues to grow, as cocaine enters Europe through numerous routes and means, but the growth in large-volume trafficking, through major ports, using containers, stands out.

Specifically, the report presented that the amount of cocaine seized by the Authorities in Europe doubled in 2017, achieving a record of 140 tonnes, reflecting that a big amount of mass supply of drugs comes from Latin America.

North now informs that vessels trading in these areas should continue to follow best practice and promptly report any findings of drugs.