The Portuguese authorities have seized 14 tonnes of cocaine this year, the highest value of the decade, reports DN. The 14 tonnes of cocaine have a market value of around 700 million euros.
The think thank Insightcrime states that these drug seizures only correspond to 10 to 20% of the total drugs circulating in Portugal. However, in 2006, 36 tonnes of cocaine were seized in Portugal.
Back in June, in operation “bananero,” the Judiciary Police (PJ) seized over 8 tonnes of cocaine in the port of Setubal, making it one of the largest drug seizures in Portugal. The cocaine was hidden in banana containers from Colombia and arrived in Portugal by sea.
That same month, the PJ helped with the investigation that led to the arrest of a major drug lord from Brazil, Sérgio Roberto de Carvalho in Hungary. Known as the Brazilian Escobar, the drug lord had laundered money and lived in hiding in Portugal.
The Portuguese PJ and the Brazilian Federal Police also believe that the 578 kilos of cocaine caught on a private jet in Brazil destined for Tires, Cascais, belonged to Carvalho’s network.
Why are drug seizures in Portugal increasing?
Insightcrime argues that “from a business perspective, drug trafficking to Europe is a lot more attractive than to the United States.” This is because prices are significantly higher, and the risk of extradition and arrest are significantly lower.
The think thank says that while a kilo of cocaine is worth around 28,000 euros in the US, it is worth on average “40,000 in Europe, but can reach 80,000 in other European countries.”
Europol has said that this will inevitably lead to an increase in violence. According to the Serious and Organized Crime Threat Assessment report, cocaine trafficking is a key criminal activity for crime networks that involves a great deal of individuals.
These networks “are highly organized, hierarchal, and structured with well-defined roles and levels surrounding their leaders.”
Due to the attractiveness of the European underground market, these crime networks are a grave danger to European countries. The report says that “the flourishing cocaine market has led to an increasing number of deaths, shootings, bombings, incidents of arson, kidnappings, torture, and intimidation.”
Drugs are not legal in Portugal. This is a widespread myth. However, all drugs are decriminalized, including largely stigmatized drugs such as meth. Portugal has taken a public health approach to drug use by not criminalizing those in possession of drugs.
However, drug trafficking is definitely illegal! Possessing a specific amount of a drug is considered drug trafficking and is thus a crime. The allowed amounts will differ by drug.