Sunday

14th Apr 2024

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • 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.

EU Parliament set to sue EU Commission over Hungary funds

The European Parliament will likely take the European Commission to court for unblocking more than €10bn in funds for Hungary last December. A final nod of approval is still needed by European Parliament president, Roberta Metsola.

Opinion

Potential legal avenues to prosecute Navalny's killers

The UN could launch an independent international investigation into Navalny's killing, akin to investigation I conducted on Jamal Khashoggi's assassination, or on Navalny's Novichok poisoning, in my role as special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, writes the secretary-general of Amnesty International.

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us