Specialist insurer highlights drug smuggling in the freight industry

Specialist insurer highlights drug smuggling in the freight industry

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As contraband drugs continue to enter Europe via ports on the Atlantic seaboard, freight insurer TT Club has increased its efforts to promote industry awareness of trends in criminal activity and the methods of combatting it.

Since the beginning of April, more examples of criminal gangs utilising the complexity of European import trades to smuggle in drugs have continued to emerge.

“Illicit drug trade across Western Europe”

Reports include cocaine smuggled in containers of fruit through the port of Antwerp.

In Rotterdam, narcotics were discovered in reefer containers carrying melons from Panama; ecstasy with a value of €1.5m was discovered in a truck at Calais; Le Havre emerged as a hotspot for cocaine imports; 133 kilos of marijuana and hashish were found at the Port of Motril in southern Spain, brought in from North Africa.

In addition, there has been news of smuggling gangs with links to Brazil operating in Lisbon and Oporto.

“These are just fragments of the evidence that we have of the crucial role ports are playing in the illicit drug trade across Western Europe,” commented Mike Yarwood, Managing Director, Loss Prevention, TT Club. 

“110 tons of cocaine were seized at the port of Antwerp last year and much has been reported of how the city has become the European hub for drug importation. But the network of channels for the trade is widespread and few ports along the seaboard can turn a blind eye to the problem.”

Increasing awareness

TT is committing significant resources to collating detailed reporting, including that of their partner BSI Screen, to create greater awareness of the sophisticated methods that criminals employ, the extent of their geographical reach and the diverse gateways they are using to supply illicit drugs.

“Increasing awareness, particularly the role of European ports in drug smuggling is crucial to restricting this trade,” added Erica Bressner, European Analyst, BSI. 

“Especially as indications show that smuggling at ports may be increasing for certain key narcotics, like cocaine. Europol has reported record-setting seizures of cocaine every year since 2017, particularly in seaports.

“This points to a growing market for the narcotic as cocaine becomes more affordable to the average consumer.”

“In response, European port authorities have worked to implement additional security measures to combat this trade and its concurrent violence. However, the control of the criminal syndicates is such that they have the ability to adapt their smuggling routes to evade authorities.”

Bressner added: “This includes a diversification of smuggling routes to target non-traditional ports of entry where security measures are less intensive.”

To find out more information, visit: www.ttclub.com

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