Spain flooded with cocaine and Balkan cartel rules

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cocaine Balkan Cartel

The cocaine trade in Spain is changing drastically. There is a shift from cocaine that only came from Latin America to cocaine from criminal organisations and clans from Albania, Serbia and Croatia, the so-called Balkan Cartel.

The Balkan Cartel has emerged as the new leader of the European drug trade, according to drug experts at the Spanish National Police, and their presence is now strongly felt in Spain. Previously, the ports of Valencia and Barcelona were major gateways for cocaine originating from Latin America, but recent police operations indicate a shift in the landscape.

Rise of the Balkan Cartel

According to the Policia Nacional, the Balkan Cartel has replaced the traditional Mexican and Colombian cartels as the largest distributor of cocaine worldwide in just five years. This new cartel controls the cocaine trade directly from production in Colombia, providing a strategic advantage. By working directly with Latin American cartels and paying for control over the production process, they avoid middlemen, increase profitability and reduce vulnerabilities in their operations.

Overproduction and price drop of cocaine

The Balkan Cartel has also benefited from the ban on the use of chemical pesticides such as glyphosate on coca plantations in Colombia. This ban led to an overproduction of cocaine. This was exacerbated during the pandemic as farmers continued to produce three crops a year while the cartels struggled to sell the surpluses. As a result, Europe, and Spain in particular, has been flooded with cocaine. This subsequently led to a sharp drop in prices. The price of a kilo of cocaine in Spain is now between €18,000 and €20,000. Before the pandemic, that was about €35,000. However, the street price of a gram of cocaine is still around €60. Sometimes it is cheaper, depending on the purity and quality.

Local production in Spain

Spanish police intercepted approximately 20,000 kilos more cocaine in 2023 than in 2022. This indicates an increase in drug transport. Spain plays a crucial role as a transit country for cocaine to Europe, with the ports of Algeciras, Valencia and Barcelona being key entry points. The ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam also remain favourite destinations for drug smugglers.

Cogesa Expats

The National Police is particularly concerned about the attempts of major drug cartels to set up production points in Spain. Four synthetic drug laboratories have already been dismantled this year. In mid-May, a large cocaine laboratory was discovered in a villa in the province of Tarragona, set up by the Farruku clan, an arm of the Balkan Cartel. The narcos brought the raw materials of cocaine from South America, mixed with other substances, in virtually undetectable containers. The purity of the drug was 97%.

Increasing threat

The message in police reports, in reports from international organisations such as the UN, or heard from the mouths of those fighting this scourge that threatens the stability of states, is unequivocal: The drugs are everywhere. “The narco is stronger than ever”, “there are more drugs than ever”. According to El País, this trend was also identified by the European Drug Monitoring Centre in 2022.

The rise of the Balkan Cartel and the expansion of their operations into local production in Spain poses a growing threat. In this context, the authorities in Spain are calling for international cooperation to effectively tackle drug trafficking.

Also read: 16 tons of pellets infused with cocaine seized in Tarragona

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