TT Club is increasing its efforts to promote industry awareness of both trends in criminal activity and methods of combatting its success, in response to the exponential growth in contraband drugs entering Europe via ports on the Atlantic seaboard.
smuggle in drugs have continued to emerge. Reports include:s explained, in the past two months, since the beginning of April, yet more examples of criminal gangs utilising the complexity of European import trades to
- cocaine in containers of fruit through the port of Antwerp;
- in Rotterdam narcotics were discovered in reefer containers carrying melons from Panama;
- ecstasy with a value of €1.5 million in a truck at Calais and Le Havre emerging as a hotspot for cocaine imports;
- 133 kilos of marijuana and hashish at the Port of Motril in southern Spain brought in from North Africa, and
- news of smuggling gangs with links to Brazil operating in Lisbon and Oporto.
These are just fragments of the evidence that we have of the crucial role ports are playing in the illicit drug trade across Western Europe.
..comments Mike Yarwood, Managing Director Loss Prevention at TT Club.
110 tons of cocaine were seized at the port of Antwerp last year and much has been reported of how the city has become the European hub for drug importation. But the network of channels for the trade is widespread and few ports along the seaboard can turn a blind eye to the problem.
To open the industry’s eyes to the dangers yet further, TT is committing significant resource to collating detailed reporting, including that of their partner BSI Screen, to create greater awareness of the sophisticated methods that criminals employ, the extent of their geographical reach and the diverse gateways they are using to supply the vast European market for illicit drugs.
Increasing awareness, particularly the role of European ports in drug smuggling is crucial to restricting this trade. Especially as indications show that smuggling at ports may be increasing for certain key narcotics, like cocaine. Europol has reported record-setting seizures of cocaine every year since 2017, particularly in seaports.
..comments Erica Bressner, BSI’s European Analyst.
“In response, European port authorities have worked to implement additional security measures to combat this trade and its concurrent violence. However, the control of the criminal syndicates is such that they have the ability to adapt their smuggling routes to evade authorities. This includes a diversification of smuggling routes to target non-traditional ports of entry where security measures are less intensive,” says Bressner.
Security at the established targeted ports has naturally been increased with, for example a new seventy-strong security corps established in Antwerp, increased CCTV surveillance and the use of drones in Rotterdam, and a specialist anti-drug trafficking police unit in the Netherlands. However, the crime groups are well entrenched, having established long tentacles throughout supply chains and are sophisticated in their expertise and knowledge of how trade works.
We are dealing with global crime syndicates. Efforts to combat their activities will be akin to squeezing a half-inflated balloon, we may constrict them in one or two ports but they will find ways to exploit others.