Murderous Sinaloa Cartel uses Romanian criminals to smuggle cocaine through ports including Felixstowe and Harwich
PUBLISHED: 15:39 24 July 2017
A notorious drug-trafficking cartel linked with hundreds of gruesome murders is reported to have teamed up with Romanian criminals to flood the UK with cocaine through ports including those in Suffolk and Essex.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) has warned that the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel is supplying an organised crime gang in Romania to import large amounts of the class A drug “on a weekly basis” using lorries.
Felixstowe and Harwich ports are two of the UK’s main entry points for freight transport from mainland Europe. Earlier this month a report into border security found more “clandestine arrivals” were detected at Harwich than any other east coast port, while seizures in Felixstowe included large amounts of tobacco, drugs and weapons.
The NCA said there had previously been little intelligence available on the Sinaloa Cartel but it is now believed to be seeking to exploit the high prices for cocaine in the UK as an “opportunity to maximise profits”.
The Sinaloa Cartel is said to be the “largest and most powerful cartel in the Western Hemisphere”, with a long history of drug trafficking including as an intermediary for Pablo Escobar’s infamous Medellin Cartel.
Murders by the cartel are often said to involve beheadings or bodies dissolved in vats of alkali and are sometimes filmed as a warning to rivals.
The cartel’s former leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Loera, famously escaped prison through a mile-long underground tunnel, before being recaptured following a police shootout and extradited to America.
The NCA said previous operations by the Serious Organised Crime Agency had identified links between Liverpool based crime gangs and Mexican cocaine suppliers, in which drugs were transported via European airports such as Frankfurt and Brussels and then on to the UK.
Working with international partners, the agency has identified a Romanian gang with the “capability to import large amounts of cocaine into the UK on a weekly basis using HGV transport.”
“Intelligence indicates that the Romanina gang are still being supplied by a Mexican gang linked to the Sinaloa Cartel,” a spokesman added.
“It is assessed that this network will continue to supply large volumes of Class A drugs into the UK.
“Previous significant interdictions of their supply has not deterred the group from continuing their criminal activity aimed at the UK market.”
Border Force officials have made large seizures of drugs at Harwich and Felixstowe ports. In January 2016, 65 kilos of cocaine were seized in Harwich from the back of a lorry.