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The Illicit Drug Trade of the UK in 2017: Pax Mexicana!

The National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime 2017 produced by the National Crime Agency (NCA) describes the rapidly changing drug markets of the UK under the hegemony of the Mexican Transnational Trafficking Organisations (MTTOs), their affiliates and the affiliates of the affiliates in gangland UK. The report in its section on Drugs lists under key judgements: the growing power of Albanian crime groups in the drug market of the UK especially in cocaine markets, the dominance of Serbian and Turkish crime groups in the maritime trafficking of cocaine to the UK, the Mexican/Romanian nexus moving cocaine to the UK from Europe via heavy goods vehicles, Turkish and Pakistani crime groups continue to dominate the trafficking of heroin to the UK via land and maritime routes as the Balkans and the Indian Ocean/East Africa maritime route and finally and increasing volumes of cocaine are being shipped directly to the UK rather than through Europe. These key judgements all point to the growing power of the MTTOs, their premier European affiliate, the Ndrangheta and the gangland affiliates of the MTTOs and the Ndrangheta in the drug market of the UK as they rebuild the illicit drug trade of the UK in their image and likeness.

The most potent indicator of this reality is the increasing volume of cocaine being shipped to the UK directly from the Caribbean Basin, Brazil and Africa. This is a return to the strategy of the 1990s which was launched by the Colombian trafficking organisations which subsequently failed because of inadequate investment, failure to create the logistic alliances and to genuinely believe in the venture rather than an overreliance on Spain as the terminus to Europe. The MTTOs have an entirely different approach as they are investing in creating new routes that are parallel to the old Colombian routes in order to open new markets and expand old ones with a range of products marketed on the basis of affordable prices for higher quality more bang for your money. In this move to flood the UK with product directly shipped to the UK the trafficking base has already been established in the Caribbean, Brazil and West and Southern Africa as entry points along the west and south coasts of the UK and Ireland are targeted. The trafficking logistics are all in place to operate two tiers of trafficking to unleash a tsunami of cocaine on the UK: tier 1 Brazil and the Caribbean Basin, tier 2 West Africa, Southern Africa, and Latin American nations outside of the Caribbean Basin as Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Paraguay etc. An assault from multiple points utilising multiple means of trafficking as containerised cargo, trawlers, pleasure craft, other vessels, mules, swallowers, air cargo, the bodies of aircraft and the methodology of the “darkness”

The MTTOs’ agenda in the UK and Europe calls for expanding the cocaine markets, marketing methamphetamine/ice towards creating a viable market for ice and gaining a presence in the heroin market of the UK and Europe. With heroin the supply link with the Afghan suppliers is compulsory and that is already settled the next stage is realising a working relationship with the dominant heroin suppliers of the UK and Europe. The basis of this a mutually beneficial affiliation where the MTTOs offer access to cocaine and ice where the dominant heroin smugglers now become cocaine smugglers and eventually ice manufacturers and smugglers and the MTTOs enter and expand upon their presence in heroin markets thereby completing their premier product mix cocaine, ice and heroin. The working example of this is the affiliation of Nigerian traffickers with the MTTOs. For those markets of the UK and Europe where the preference is for heroin and or amphetamines over cocaine the MTTOs will now satisfy needs with heroin and with industrial grade ice to displace amphetamine consumption. This explains the appearance of Serbian and Turkish traffickers in the UK within the cocaine supply circuit.

The most strategically important statement of the report in this section is the recognition of the Mexican/Romanian affiliation involved in trafficking cocaine to the UK from Europe. The MTTOs are moving cocaine loads to the Black Sea ports of Romania where The MTTOs, the Ndrangheta and their affiliates as Romanian, Polish and Serbian crime groups are trafficking this cocaine to Germany, Poland and other countries in the vicinity. Romanian crime groups are moving the cocaine of the MTTOs throughout Europe and to the UK as are the Serbian and Polish crime groups with the Ndrangheta exercising command and control functions of these networks in conjunction with the MTTOs. The MTTOs with the Ndrangheta are now moving cocaine into Italy, Greece and Romania via the Mediterranean Sea route to the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea. The linkages formed on a single trafficking route are replicated in all other existing and trafficking routes yet to be created in keeping with the rules of affiliation as defined by the MTTOs where the product and wealth derived is kept within the structure of the trafficking enterprise. Those who are not part of the structure have no access to the product of the organisation unlike the Colombians the MTTOs don’t sell to external actors who are competitors. There is no free market.

The prime directive of the MTTOs and their affiliates is to build sustainable enterprises upon three core foundations: the illicit drug trade, the illicit gun trade and human smuggling to these other enterprises will be added as fake goods, financial crimes, kidnapping etc. The human smugglers of Europe when granted affiliate status with the MTTOs will become players in drug trafficking, small arms smuggling and human smuggling. The same applies to trafficking organisations as they add to their product list. Specific cells of these crime groups will then use the resources of their parent organisation to master non-core hustles to earn as ATM scamming, identity theft, prostitution, pornography, fake goods etc. This is the chosen methodology to maximise the profits of the larger crime group with its rigorously policed discipline, cellular structure and rigid hierarchy. A most formidable threat to the state.

The report indicates that Albanian crime groups are now a powerful player in the drug markets of the UK and that traffickers from the Balkans are forming links with South American cocaine suppliers. For Albanian crime groups to exert power on the drug market of the UK what is the basis of this power relation? Do the Albanians have access to a supply of cocaine denied to other crime groups? How can the Albanians exert power over a drug market to the detriment of transnational traffickers who have in their possession production platforms for cocaine? Do the Albanians have this capacity also? How can the Albanians exert power over a UK drug market to the detriment of the MTTOs and the Ndrangheta and their affiliates? The Albanians as other specific Balkan crime groups are now involved in trafficking cocaine to the UK and Europe as a result of their links to the MTTOs and Ndrangheta affiliation a link forged through trafficking of cocaine to Germany and countries further east in Europe. The Albanian crime groups in the UK are now the shock troops of the UK drug market at the retail level for the MTTOs and Ndrangheta affiliation with wholesale markets under a different order.

The most potent indicator of the operational impact of the MTTOs and the Ndrangheta upon the cocaine drug market of the UK is the report of seizures of cocaine at the ground level of 80-90% purity. The volume of supply of cocaine necessary to raise the purity of retail sales is in train with lowering of prices for higher purity being loaded up for implementation provided the MTTOs control the streets and herein lies the ongoing problem. The report speaks to the level of violence and mayhem that is part of the retail sales networks outside of the urban areas to the counties. The operational methods of the sale of cocaine in the counties indicate that the transnational trafficking organisations and their affiliates are yet to exercise hegemony over this market segment which has the ability to bring increased violence and mayhem to the urban market with an increase in the volume of available cocaine from which the operators of the county markets are excluded. Both cocaine markets, the urban and county, will be purged and a new order put in place in the image and likeness of the MTTOs which involves societal violence. The question then is the crime groups which will be affiliates of the MTTOs and those excluded from affiliate status and the ensuing power relation between them and its impact on the social order of the UK. Where does British organised crime stand in this new order especially in powerful trafficking enclaves as Manchester? This reality is of utmost importance rather than the Albanian and other Balkan crime groups.

The report indicated the effects of the availability of illicit drugs in the UK and the impact the rise in purity of cocaine and heroin sold at the retail level is having on mortality rates due to heroin, morphine and cocaine poisoning. Since 2012 to 2015 deaths due to heroin and morphine poisoning have more than doubled whilst those linked to cocaine and crack cocaine continue to rise. Deaths linked to heroin and cocaine have attained their highest levels since 1993. The wave of illicit drugs being smuggled into UK prisons and their impact on the social order of prisons was also noted in the report especially the impact of the synthetic drug “spice” on prisons. Years of neo-liberal shrinkage of the expanse of the state followed by post 2008 neo-liberal austerity have rendered the UK state vulnerable to the assault of the MTTOs and their affiliates. The report notes UK border corruption as a key vulnerability but it’s a vulnerability that will be fully exploited, expanded and deepened by the MTTOs, the Ndrangheta and the affiliates. The three primary profit centres: illicit drug trafficking, illicit gun trafficking and human smuggling fully integrated and pursued within multitasking structures driven by operational cells will assault the UK state and unleash dramatic lasting changes to the power relations and the social order of the UK. The UK is presently the largest drug market of Europe it will evolve into an illicit poly-drug bazaar, an illicit small arms bazaar and an irregular migrant bazaar. And in these bazaars the extremists will be endowed and enabled to continue their war against the west. This is the gift bestowed on the UK by the cult of neo-liberalism served by doting politicians. Pax Mexicana!

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