The Economist: Why Belgium is now the cocaine capital of Europe

Why Belgium is now the cocaine capital of Europe

  • West Balkan criminal groups have moved 40% of the EU’s cocaine through Antwerp.

  • Belgium is the second largest inland seaport in the EU and has outstanding infrasturcture for transportation and shipping. Criminals need their product to move quickly, uninhibited by delays. Hence, hide the product in plain site and be willing to lose 10-20% of your product as some will be found at the port of entry.

  • Video footage of containers opened by police showing torture rooms, loads of guns, police uniforms and vests the criminal gangs will use.

  • There’s one cotainer with over 11 tons of cocaine we will see here. And yet, to find it, you would need to search over 12 million containers moved each year in Antwerp. According to The Economist, only 2% of all containers are ever checked by authorities.

  • Bananas are one main way to camfoflauge cocaine from Latin America. Bananas are very perishable, so, their checkouts must be very quick to get produce to markets.

  • Cocaine has a bigger market in the EU than North America. The reason cocaine is doing well in Europe, more rewards, less risk:

:pushpin: Higher Demand
:pushpin: Higher Prices
:pushpin: Less Chance of Interdiction
:pushpin: Less Chance of Extradition

  • The worst gangs are from Western Balkan countries such as Albania, Bosnia, and Croatia. The 90s were a time of wealth destruction in Balkan Countries from war. With eviscerated economies and little chance of work, the citizens turned to illicit smuggling of drugs to Europe. Many of these gangs have recently moved from tobacco, heroin, and human smuggling into the more lucrative smuggling of coke.

  • These gangs have also gone back to Latin America and opened new export ports in places such as Ecuador. And now they are buying into shipping. The idea for the criminals is to control the entire supply chain.

  • The largest markup in cocaine is in supply and transport. Logistics’ biggest profits in this illicit supply chain rewards production, transport & dealing:

:pushpin: Production markup - 150%
:pushpin: Retail markup - 300%
:pushpin: Transport markup to Europe - 1,500%

  • The gangs use violence and bribes to stay on top of their shipping businesses. For instance in one case where an Albanian kingpin was arrested, authorities learned a 100kg shipment from Ecuador cost 20-24% (to corrupt Antwerp officials) of that shipment to land in Antwerp. Crooked officials in Antwerp accept payment in both cash OR drugs.

  • With the Western Balkans joining the EU, the hope was these impoverished countries would begin to look like EU countries; instead, EU countries are now becoming infested more and more with criminal type activities the Western Balkan gangs are known for.

  • Port workers can make $50,000 just by taking the bribe to move the container inside a port from this location to that location.

  • A recent bust in Antwerp for 11 tons of cocaine in one container had a street value of $750,000,000. This lead to an investigation where the former head of Antwerp’s Anti-Narcotics Divisision, 3 police officers, and a lawyer were busted for this shipment.

  • The Mayor of Antwerp is now under police protection because he spoke out against all the criminal violence in this illegal business.


Part of the decline and fall of civilization.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

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If I had a dollar for every episode of cocaine psychosis I saw in Key West Bars over the years . . . .

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