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EU now an offshore cocaine production zone

The news report that Spanish police had seized 210 kilos of coca paste placed inside furniture shipped from Peru to Barcelona, Spain confirms that the cocaine smuggling trade into the EU has now changed drastically. The police speculated that persons were sent from Spain to live in Peru and on their return to Spain the furniture they shipped via containerised cargo as personal effects were infused with coca paste. The smuggling method used is an old smuggling method for moving cocaine to the EU but the new product smuggled is the primary input for the production of cocaine hydrochloride and has no commercial value unless there now exists demand for coca paste as input for cocaine labs operating in the EU. First the interdiction in Italy and now in Spain confirms that a series of micro to medium sized labs are now in operation in the EU in a bid to reduce the volume of finished product crossing the Atlantic to Europe. It is not coincidental that the two interdictions were in Italy and Spain both epicentres of trafficking across the Atlantic into the EU. It is expected that this process is also in operation in western Europe as The Netherlands and the UK and Ireland. The size of the labs is the result of a deliberate strategy of the Mexican trafficking organisations as these labs are run by cells of affiliates and the product sold to affiliates and passed to members of the trafficking organisation for disposal on the wholesale and retail drug markets of the EU. An input of much lower value is imported and distributed to operational cells in the country of consumption where production is localised. A strategy learned from globalised transnational corporations.

One kilo of coca paste will yield approximately less than one half (1/2) kilo of cocaine given the high quality leaf hybrid coca plants are producing; therefore 210 kilos of this high quality paste, that is the hallmark of the Mexican traffickers, will yield approximately 100 kilos of cocaine. With USD prices per gram in the EU ranging from USD 53 to USD 100 the relatively low level of supply side market saturation is seen by the Mexican traffickers as the opportunity to flood the EU with high quality product at much lower prices to deepen market demand and lengthen market life. And given the widespread availability of the two major chemical precursors necessary to the manufacturing process in the EU the logic of the strategic move to locate offshore production in the EU is indicated.

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