The latest seizure of forty kilograms of cocaine occurred last Sunday in Palma de Mallorca, found aboard a Beneteau that had stopped in the Spanish island after the Atlantic crossing from Bermuda and before resuming sea to its final destination in Croatia (photo below). This is just the latest case of the ever-expanding phenomenon of drug trafficking by sailboat.
THE NEW “ESCOBARS OF SAILING”
A real boom according to drug investigators across Europe. A confidential report sketches the sketch of the new cocaine traffickers of the third millennium: they are35/40-year-old Europeans with backgrounds as managers, executives, financiers and small business owners who, due to the crisis, lose their jobs or are forced to close their businesses.
They share a passion for sailing and the ability to lead a boat for long ocean voyages. That’s who the drug skippers of this early millennium are, unsuspected people who use taking a sabbatical in search of a simple life in nature as a smokescreen while waiting out the economic crisis. In reality, the report circulating in EMCDDA (European Drug Agency) circles specifies, these individuals decide to engage in real criminal activity, lured by the possibility of getting rich illegally, of making “the big score” by then reinvesting the proceeds of the cocaine trade in licit activities. The case of the 40-kilogram cocaine seizure that took place in Majorca is in fact a small-scale operation.
THE KNOWN CASES.
Notorious and sensational cases include that of the Jongert Blaus VII owned by Padua skipper Mattia Voltan, which was seized by Portuguese authorities who had found as much as two tons of cocaine just arrived from Venezuela or Frenchman Stèphane Colas, who started by cramming his boat with 400 kilograms of cocaine on the route from Venezuela to Madeira, Canary Islands, until he was caught by Spanish police.
THERE ARE FEW CONTROLS
For the few who are “caught.” Hundreds of skippers traffic cocaine with used sailboats departing from ports in Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela to land along the Spanish coast and, recently to evade increasingly stringent controls, they land in Africa, where there are actual warehouses equipped to the hilt. A kind of ideal storage base, because there are few controls, and corruption is widespread.” Thus Cape Verde, Ghana, Nigeria, and Ivory Coast are the new destinations for drug skippers. The safest system is this: it comes off the Canary Islands, Cape Verde and the Azores to be transshipped onto fishing boats from African ports.