Irish drug gangs linked to Italian mafia in EU cocaine boom

Irish drug gangs linked to Italian mafia in EU cocaine boom

The report by UN and EU drug enforcement agencies says repeated multi-tonne seizures of cocaine highlight the “significantly increased" supply of cocaine to Europe

Major Irish drug gangs have been colluding with the Italian mafia and Dutch crime groups in supplying a booming cocaine trade in Europe, according to an international study.

The report by UN and EU drug agencies documents a “new phenomenon” of increased cooperation between European drug traffickers and high-level cocaine brokers.

It cites the example of collusion involving Irish, Italian, Bosnian and, Dutch traffickers in Dubai, which has been the base of the Kinahan crime cartel in recent years. This relates to what has been described in media reports as a “super cartel” comprising Kinahan boss Daniel Kinahan, Dutch crime lord Ridouan Taghi, Camorra don Raffaele Imperiale, and Bosnia chief Edin Gacanin.

International gangs co-operate to maximise profit

The report says in such collusions, the gangs “pool their capital to jointly purchase larger quantities to maximise profits” with the Camorra particularly prominent in participating in “criminal consortia”.

The study, Cocaine Insights 1, was written by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and Europol, the EU policing agency.

It said Irish drug networks along with other national gangs are gaining a “greater share” of the booming cocaine market in Europe.

The report says that repeated multi-tonne seizures of cocaine, both in Latin America and in Europe, highlight the “significantly increased" supply of cocaine to Europe: 

"Highly sophisticated drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) operating on a global scale orchestrate the large-scale wholesale supply of cocaine to Europe."

The report says contemporary DTOs are comprised of complex networks of contacts relying on representatives present in source and destination countries.

It says these networks are trafficking “unprecedented amounts” of cocaine from Latin America to Europe.

These developments include an expansion of the presence of European DTOs in source regions in Latin America and of Latin American criminal networks in key destination markets in western and central Europe.

While traditional Italian mafia-type groups, such as ’Ndrangheta and Camorra continue to play a leading role in supplying cocaine from South America, it says Balkan gangs are increasingly present, along with Dutch, British, and Spanish gangs.

It adds Irish gangs are also present at the source countries: “Less prominent cocaine trafficking DTOs also originate from Ireland, Poland, and Serbia.” 

The report flags what it says is an emerging development of criminal consortia coming together.

“Another new phenomenon involves increased cooperation between DTOs based in Europe. Recent reports in the media suggest possible collusion among European high-level cocaine brokers and traffickers from distinct backgrounds," it says.

"One example of an attempt at collusion among different groups may have been observed in 2017 in Dubai, involving individuals with ties to Irish, Italian, Bosnian, and Dutch DTOs.

"Italian authorities also assessed that the Italian criminal network Camorra in particular participated in such “criminal consortia": 

"In some cases, DTOs have pooled their capital to jointly purchase larger quantities to maximize profits.”

The report says cocaine use in Europe "can only be expected to grow" and that concerted efforts needed to be taken "to rein in cocaine supply and prevent the further expansion of demand for the drug".

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