Drug gangs from the UK are now working with the mafia and other international crime gangs to get larger shipments of cocaine across the Atlantic, according to a leading serious crime official.
Lawrence Gibbons, who heads the drug crime unit at the National Crime Agency, says that British criminal leaders have established direct connections with drug cartels in South America through the ’Ndrangheta mafia of Italy.
The ’Ndrangheta is one of the most powerful and profitable criminal ventures in the world. According to Europol, the gang makes an estimated £44bn a year in profits, which is more than many large multinational corporations.
Often lead by the group, shipping containers full of smuggled coke are now being shared between gangs across Europe, who work together in advance to share the goods between them.
Because of tighter US border controls, and the deadly antics by Mexican cartels’, coke-producing nations like Colombia now see Europe as a more convenient place to ship their drugs.
According to reports, the cocaine will be transported by corrupt officials from continental ports Antwerp and Rotterdam once it arrives.
Back at home, around 1,716 UK-based gangs are estimated by the agency to be involved in the cocaine supply chain.
This report is just days after the NCA took down a yacht carrying a two-tonne shipment cocaine and had all six crew members arrested.
A small group of people, sometimes called “Mr Bigs”, have traditionally supervised the import and distribution of drugs in the UK. They would then operate their own networks against other drug kingpins from the rest of the country.
Gibbons claims that the model of drug trade has changed over the past ten year due to technological advances and business shifts. Smaller businesses are now working closely together to secure large quantities illicit substances.
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