Tuesday

21st Feb 2017

Mexican drug cartels penetrate southern Europe

One of Mexico’s largest and most dangerous drug cartels has expanded its activities throughout the world, including Spain, Italy and the Western Balkans.

"The reach of drug trafficking cartels, in particular the Sinaloa cartel, is one that is frankly global," said the US deputy assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, Brian Nichols, on Thursday (8 November) in Brussels.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • A major Mexican drug cartel is making in-roads in Europe (Photo: jpazkual)

American media cite the cartels as reaping billions in profits from hubs stationed only in and around the United States.

But the Sinaloa cartel retains a special status.

In 2010, it allegedly infiltrated the Mexican government, placing informants to secure territory inside the country and to take out rivals. Some, working in conjunction with local crime lords, have already been arrested in Spain and in Italy.

Speaking to journalists in Brussels, Nichols said the cartel is principally interested in moving cocaine but also has interest in marijuana, methamphetamines and ecstasy.

"In terms of their presence in southern Europe, I think they are looking for an entry point, they are looking for markets where they can move their products," said Nichols.

The globalised nature of the drug cartels has pushed national enforcement authorities to work closer together.

Nichols said the US is engaged with the Dutch and the UK in the Caribbean. Agents from Italy, Spain and the UK in Central America are working closely with US rule of law and counter-narcotic experts to investigate and crack down on the networks.

"Most of the leads we follow up on in Europe are developed in the Americas, whether it’s Mexico or Columbia or Peru," said Nichols.

The Mexicans are not the only ones with an acute business interest in the Western Balkans. Colombians and Peruvians are also making in-roads.

"People in Western Balkans are talking to their suppliers in Mexico, in South America," said Nichols.

The joint efforts of crime fighting units from across the globe is a relatively new phenomenon.

South American countries, for instance, are partnering investigations in the Western Balkans and sharing their knowledge and intelligence. "[It] previously is not something you would have seen," said Nichols.

EU secret police

But in Europe, some elusive cross-border investigations and police networks have been in place for at least two decades.

An inquiry by a handful of members from the left-leaning group in Germany’s Bundestag received some insight into activities over the summer after pressing the government for information for over two years.

According to their research, the Dutch launched an International Working Group on Police Undercover Activities (IWG) in 1989. The group has grown.

Agents from all around Europe allegedly meet to exchange experience on all matters related to the covert deployment of police officers.

A source familiar with the group told the deputies that one such meeting in 2007 included "police authority representatives from European states, as well as from Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA."

Germany’s federal government told the deputies in May that its own foreign agents are carefully selected and take on considerable risks "that put their lives and health in danger."

German officials also stated they rely on the dedication and specialist expertise of the agents when it comes to combating the most serious of crimes like human trafficking, with some organised crime syndicates or networks are involved in murder and kidnappings.

"[This] can only be opposed effectively by the German state if there are such officers who express a willingness to undertake covert operations," the federal government told the deputies.

Human trafficking is 'modern day slavery'

Human trafficking is the slavery of our times, with the victims a tiny cog in a corruption machine that involves criminal gangs working across several member states, say experts.

Germany seeks to harden EU border checks

German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said internal EU border controls should be imposed on security as well as immigrations grounds, shifting their legal basis.

French police raid Le Pen's party office

Officers raid the National Front headquarters near Paris over allegations that leader Marine Le Pen used fake EU parliament contracts to pay her personal staff.

Opinion

EU must tackle Poland's bad behaviour

Developments in Washington only serve to highlight the need for positive action in the face of an overtly nationalistic and anti-rights form of populism.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian parliament buries controversial corruption decree
  2. Dozens drown off Libyan coast
  3. EU ministers approve anti-tax avoidance directive
  4. Poland rejects EU criticism of court changes
  5. German nationalist leader met with Putin allies in Moscow
  6. German housing market overheated, says Bundesbank
  7. France invites three EU leaders for Versailles summit in March
  8. Greece agrees on new bailout reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  2. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  3. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  4. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  7. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  8. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  9. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  10. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  11. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia
  12. Martens CentreShow Your Love for Democracy! Take Part in Our Contest: "If It's Broken, Let's Fix It"

Latest News

  1. Should Europeans spend more on defence?
  2. Dieselgate: EU disappointed with VW's treatment of customers
  3. French police raid Le Pen's party office
  4. The Armenia-Azerbaijan war: A refugee's story
  5. Greece and creditors break bailout deadlock
  6. Internal EU report exposes Libya turmoil
  7. EU commissioner condemns 'delay' in post-Dieselgate reform
  8. Sweden fights back as foreign leaders make up bad news