Mexico’s drug cartels are rapidly expanding their share of the international drug market, according to reports from U.S. drug enforcement officials and their counterparts in Europe and Asia.As we recently noted, Mexican cartels are some of the most extensive and powerful criminal enterprises in history. Evidence suggests that the cartels have a presence (at least) in all of the world’s major drug markets, and are now expanding operations into other types of illegal smuggling. In the past few months, the U.S. agencies have stopped using the acronym “DTOs,” or drug-trafficking organisations to describe the Mexican cartels. They now favour the term “TCO,” or transcontinental criminal organisations.
The Mexican political news magazine Contralinea compiles compelling evidence that the cartels are well-established in markets around the world.
Here are the highlights, courtesy of Insight:
- A joint investigation by Italian and American officials has revealed deep links between Mexico’s Gulf Cartel and the ‘Ndrangheta, a criminal organisation that controls Italy’s Calabria region and traffics drugs between New York and Europe.
- According to Europol, Mexican cartels have increased their presence in the European markets. The agency notes a “striking” increase in cocaine trafficking from Mexico to Spain and Portugal.
- Japanese authorities have noted an increase in methamphetamine trafficking, primarily from Mexico via Africa and Iran.
- U.S. authorities have detected significant ties between the Peruvian mafia and the Sinaloa and Los Zetas cartels. Peru is the world’s second largest cocaine producer.
- Law enforcement officials have also established links between Mexican traffickers and drug rings in Malaysia, India and other parts of Southeast Asia.
U.S. and international law enforcement agents also report that Mexican cartels have established a presence in Africa to gain easier access to the European markets. United Nations officials said today that there is evidence Mexican cartels are now using “narco-submarines” to smuggle growing quantities of cocaine to the European markets via poor nations in West Africa.
Mexican cartels have also deepened ties with criminal groups in the U.S. The Oakland Tribune reports that the cartels have formed close relationships with California’s huge prison gangs. Law enforcement officials and experts say the relationships have moved into a dangerous new area as the gangs share tactical information and intelligence.
The gangs — whose members are dispersed across the U.S. and Central America — now largely operate as enforcement agents for their cartel bosses.
Check out Contralinea’s map of Mexican cartel influence below:
Photo: Courtesy of Contralinea
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