A senior shipping industry executive is warning that drug trafficking gangs have infiltrated shipping supply chains to an “extreme” extent.
European authorities have had a busy few years, with annual drug seizures consistently breaking new records. But criminal organisations often stay a step ahead:
- They’ve expanded to smaller ports to avoid detection
- They’ve streamlined their operations, and
- They’ve boosted drug production locally.
So what’s Europe doing? In its latest ‘roadmap’, Brussels introduces the European Ports Alliance, an EU-wide scheme focussed on:
- Customs – authorities now inspect less than 10% of all cargo
- Policing – there’s not enough police-customs coordination, and
- Companies – there’s not enough coordination between shipping firms and law enforcement, either.
Intrigue’s take: Most drugs entering Europe essentially hitch a ride on commercial cargo ships, which means any policy aimed at illicit trade will end up impacting lawful trade too.
So that’s really what this latest plan is about: it’s not realistic to inspect every container; better targeting is key, and that means better coordination.
Also worth noting:
- The port of Antwerp, Europe’s key cocaine trafficking hub, is aiming to inspect all “high-risk” cargo by 2028.