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Dinosaurs of Caribbean Trafficking to the EU

A press release dated July 11, 2016 from the NCA of the UK details on the largest seizure of cocaine in the UK’s history to-date were revealed. In April 2015 the MV Hamal based on intelligence supplied by the NCA was seized off the coast of Scotland by British state authorities. When docked in excess of 3.2 tonnes of cocaine packed in 128 bales at approx. 25 kilos each were found in a compartment built into the ballast tank with an entrance cut into the floor of the crew quarters and covered with cement. The NCA release did not state the quantum of kilos seized but it did state that the purity of the cocaine seized ranged from 58% to 74% which is not industry standard of 90%+ purity which is very instructive. The Hamal with its 9-member Turkish crew left Tenerife, Canary Islands on March 8, 2015, arrived in Georgetown, Guyana on March 21, 2015 and left Guyana on March 26, 2015 with crew members in contact with persons in Guyana whilst they were in port. The NCA report said that the navigation aid of the Hamal was switched off and various logs indicated that the ship spent some time in West Africa before leaving for the Caribbean.

The report insinuates that the cocaine was loaded in the Caribbean but it is also feasible for the loading to have taken place in West Africa or the Canary Islands with the run to Guyana and back being used to cover the planned trafficking run to Europe. There is enough product crossing the Atlantic and being off-loaded in the Canary Islands and West Africa on its way to Europe presently to facilitate this run. If this was a Caribbean trafficking run to the EU, then it was straight out of a 1990s Caribbean trafficking playbook which has long being discarded. There are enough shipping containers moving to the EU from multiple locations to utilise rather than placing 3 tonnes of cocaine in a single ship and in the changed environment of trafficking a ship loaded as the Hamal is easy prey. The logistic problems intensify when the need arises to off-load the product from the ship and transport the load to a secure location. It is much easier to traffic, collect and transport 100 kilos from a container mixed in amongst a number of containers without trace. The key to this shipment is the low quality of the cocaine in the load of the Hamal as cocaine with a range of purity is not the industry standard. The standard calls for 90% pure which attracts the premium price. To sell cocaine as in the Hamal load ranging from 60% to 70% purity for premium price in the industry is grounds repeatedly for graphic violence. In the industry those purchasing cocaine or any other illicit drug walk with the means to verify purity to the price demanded and in most cases a human tester is the common means used especially at the wholesale end of the business. Cocaine with the purity range of the Hamal load cannot yield the same level of profit at the retail level as 90% pure cocaine as it has to be stepped on less times as 90% pure. If cocaine of the Hamal load is stepped on 4 times, then it has the purity of junk and other drug types are added to it to increase its potency but it has to be sold at a premium price to recoup the loss of earnings. Hamal load cocaine is then junk sold expensively in the EU retail markets which negatively impacts demand growth. The MTTOs and the Ndrangheta in Europe implement the business model in the EU where high purity cocaine is sold at lower prices than other drug retailers outside of their network in their bid to dominate the retail markets of the EU. The MTTOs and the Ndrangheta will step on a 90% pure kilo brick 3 times and sell this product at lower prices than the expensive junk that presently dominates drug markets to seize the market and more importantly to grow the level of demand. These illicit organisations can do this as they are fully integrated into the cocaine production, trafficking, distribution and retailing arms of the industry. They do not need to buy and then sell and they do not sell their product to those outside of their network. The Hamal load indicates the need of a retailing operation in Europe seeking to source a supply of cocaine and traffic it to Europe for themselves. They are not part of the dominant illicit organisation of cocaine trafficking and distribution in Europe hence supply is a problem which forced them to deal with those also excluded from the ranks of the MTTOs and their affiliates. In this cut throat world supply of quality product is also presently a problem leaving no choice but to buy stepped on cocaine and to use a highly vulnerable trafficking method as they simply do not have the resources to utilise less risk trafficking methodologies. It is also highly unlikely that they purchased the entire load from a single supplier most likely the load was made up in West Africa, the Canary Islands and the Caribbean explaining the purity range of the cocaine. To produce 3,200 kilos at 60% purity 1,900 kilos will work. The NCA release said they acted on intelligence to intercept the Hamal but the best possible source of this information is the dominant illicit organisation of Europe’s cocaine trade as this is the best means to cull the herd thereby purging the competition. There is no organisation that has the intelligence capacity to track the movements within the world cocaine industry as the MTTOs and their affiliates and the MTTOs have and will continue to use the licit order strategically to ensure their hegemony over this globalised illicit industry. This is the GAME far from a WAR.

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