UN reports, police statistics from several countries and European Union organizations agree that drug trafficking networks – including Mexican cartels – use the extensive and well-equipped port infrastructure to expand on that continent.
Madrid.- International organized crime is taking advantage of security gaps and vulnerabilities in European ports, thus converted into critical infrastructure for illegal trade, in order to flood the old continent with drugs.
In addition, these maritime terminals are used as platforms for the smuggling of drugs, chemical precursors and other illicit products to other regions of the world.
The red lights are mainly on in Rotterdam (Netherlands), Antwerp (Belgium) and Hamburg (Germany), which displaced the Spanish ports of Valencia and Algeciras, which are respectively in fourth and sixth position in drug smuggling.
According to the report Criminal Networks in the Ports of the European Union. Risks and challenges for law enforcement are two sides of the coin:
“Maritime transport is fundamental to the functioning of the European market and facilitates the transit of a high volume of legitimate goods movements from around the world.” However, “due to their nature, ports are also targets of criminal actors to orchestrate the movement of illicit goods, driving crime both within ports and in their area of influence.”
The document was prepared by the Security Steering Committee of the ports of Antwerp, Hamburg/Bremerhaven and Rotterdam, together with the European Police Office (Europol), where they evaluate the infiltration of port infrastructure by organized crime, corrosive levels of corruption reached, and describe the way mafias operate.
The containers, they claim, are the main transport in the smuggling of “cocaine, heroin, precursors, essential chemicals for synthetic drugs, cannabis (herbal cannabis and cannabis resin) and illicit tobacco products (which) enter the European Union in large quantities through ports. “Synthetic drugs produced in the EU, counterfeit goods, illicit waste and stolen vehicles or vehicle parts are shipped around the world from EU ports.”
They offer figures to understand the size of the problem.
In 2021, the total gross weight of legal goods processed in major EU ports “was 3.5 billion tonnes. 25% of (the transportation of) these goods was done in containers, which is equivalent to 98 million containers. The 20 largest cargo ports handled almost 80% of all containers processed in major EU ports in 2020. Rotterdam was the largest container port in the EU in 2020 (13.4 million TEU, unit of measurement used in international trade on standard container loading capacity), followed by Antwerp (12.0 million) and Hamburg (8.8 million).”