Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Zetas Trafficking Drugs to Europe Through West Africa

Borderland Beat
By Julieta Pelcastre for
Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel are using Atlantic Ocean drug routes to West Africa with increasing frequency, according to authorities.

Once organized crime groups have smuggled the narcotics – cocaine, marijuana, heroin and synthetic drugs – into West Africa, they transport them, often in vehicles or small airplanes, to Europe.

Other transnational criminal organizations based in other parts of Latin America also are trafficking drugs to Europe through West Africa, authorities said.

Among the criminal groups which are sending greater amounts of drugs to Europe through West Africa include the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian Norte del Valle cartel.
Latin American drug traffickers are using two basic methods to transport drugs to Africa and Europe, authorities said:

  • By sea, transnational criminal organizations hide drugs in large ships that travel from Latin America to Africa and Europe. Drug traffickers set up fake export operations and hide their drugs in the cargo of the phony export businesses, authorities said. Once the large ships have reached their ports, organized crime operatives often use smaller “fast boats” to transport the drugs from the ship to land;

  • By air, organized crime groups hire travelers, who are known as “drug mules,” to hide drugs in their luggage, clothes or even inside their bodies.

Once the drugs have reached West Africa, drug traffickers often load the drugs into land vehicles, such as SUVs, and transport them to their distribution points in Europe.

Security forces in Latin America and the United States have succeeded in recent years in slowing the amount of drugs smuggled north to the U.S. and Mexico by transnational criminal organizations.

This success has made the Atlantic drug routes to Africa and Europe more important to narco-traffickers, said security analyst Alfredo Rangel Suárez, the director of the Democracy and Security Center at Colombia’s Sergio Arboleda University.

“The fight against crime and the closing of border crossings by authorities in countries where cocaine is directly introduced have forced the FARC, Los Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel to look for new routes to satisfy demand in the European drug market, which means ports in Western Africa,” Rangel Suárez said.

For Colombian narco-traffickers, “the Atlantic route is becoming more important than the Pacific one,” according to the World Drug Report 2013 of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Many Brazilian drug traffickers ultimately transport their drugs to Portugal in part because they speak Portuguese, making communication easier, according to the UNODC report.

Entry points

Sixteen African countries comprise the main points of entry for Latin American drug traffickers, according to a report by the American Police Community (AMERIPOL), a continental police organization of 18 countries in the Americas, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, and the United States.

The African countries commonly used as entry ports are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Sierra Leone.
Los Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel

Two Mexican transnational criminal organizations, Los Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel, smuggle cocaine from Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil into Sierra Leone and then to Europe, according to Rangel Suárez. Los Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel, which is led by fugitive kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, often collaborate with other Latin American organized crime groups.

For example, Guzmán has formed alliances with Colombian organized crime groups, such as the Oliver Solarte cartel. Guzmán also has partnerships with criminal organizations in several European countries, including Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Poland, and the Czech Republic, according to the European Police Office (EUROPOL), the European police agency that handles intelligence.

Los Zetas has partnerships with organized crime groups in Central America and the Caribbean. The cartel also has established an alliance with ‘Ndrangheta, a Mafia organization in Italy, according to the report “Mexico: The Invisible War,” by Libera, an Italian human rights organization.

“This alliance is beneficial for both criminal groups. Los Zetas transports the drugs to and within Europe while ‘Ndrangheta guarantees secure distribution points,” the report stated.


The FARC is responsible for many of the drugs that are transported to West Africa and then to Europe, Rangel Suárez said.

“The FARC is the biggest cocaine smuggler in the world,” he added. “In Colombia, more than half of the drugs produced and exported to other countries are marketed by the FARC.”

Three other Colombian organized crime groups – the Popular Revolutionary Anti-Subversive Army of Colombia (ERPAC), Los Urabeños and Los Rastrojos – also transport drugs to West Africa and on to Europe.

Transnational cooperation

Transnational cooperation among security forces is crucial in the battle against drug traffickers, according to Colombian National Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón.

Countries need to share information, experience and technology to fight transnational criminal organizations, the defense minister said.

The AMERIPOL report agrees.

“What we do know for a fact is that international police cooperation is a key element to undertake joint actions and respond in an adequate and firm manner to this [transnational] criminal phenomenon,” the report stated


  1. !!!!Los zetas???!!!
    Working with El chapo?!!!
    Maybe,somebody above them coordinating?
    It is common knowledge these illiterates can't find their own arses with both hands, this operation seems much too sophisticated for them...

    1. Read again. Says they both smuggle there. Not that they work together.

    2. Stop smokin that sh**** these guys are blood enemies,they would never work together..

    3. That's what they should do. Work together. Clean up the streets of extortion, kid napping, and all that other petty shit. Just deal drugs! Do your thing, spend your money in Mexico, help out the poor, build schools, create jobs!!

  2. Well there's Ghana on the list again of everything that is good and just.....NOT !!! BTW, if you ever want to freak out someone from Ghana who is talking to you with obviously fake profiles, tell them you are a JUJU priest from Accra and they will have bad luck for 5 years for bothering you with their stupidity...and another 5 years if they don't send you $100 by Paypal in the next 15 minutes....this works as well for Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Michoacán....

  3. farc huh funny no mention of the other two proven culprits like the eagles(auc) or the Colombian gov itself

  4. No mention of English Zetas, cuz we be keeping low profiles any shit-ya gets me b?!

    1. Inglish zeta,you are lornin' to spell,or your granny posted for you? Still no facts,no deeds,no turf,no names,no mames...


  6. Its a lot of hard work imagine the logistics involved obviously there are people within the zetas organization that know what to do I doubt highly Z42 know anything bout logistics you know z40 has all the right people handling their positions from the financiers down to the mules and as far as Sinaloa they been doing it for so long that Chapo doesnt need any instructions he knows logistical planning, finances , distribution and has political ties to help make this all happen these organizations are well strutured with Sinaloa leading the pack . Talk about low key.

    1. The zetas great financiers lost their arses in Texas,Oklahoma, etc.on the other hand carlos salinas de gortari,his brother raul, humberto moreira,El gober precioso,all proven satraps,invested their ill gotten gains in Swiss banks,and went to live in England, Spain,Sweden,follow the crooks,there you will find the money,and who their masters are,remember,the zetas were moreira's boys in coahuila?and moreira was pena nieto's pretty boy ?and who is salinas pretty boy?,pena nieto?

  7. Cuidad Juarez's sister city: Mogadishu

    Two peas in a pod.

  8. Been going on for years, lots of top dogs in the mix

  9. Really when someone doesn't know afterward its up to other
    people that they will assist, so here it occurs.

  10. I like what you guys are usually up too. This sort of clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the good works guys I've included you guys to blogroll.


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