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.