Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Go-fast narco boat cocaine seizures soared in February

The navy seized more than 4.8 tonnes of cocaine brought into Mexican waters on go-fast narco boats in February, an amount close to the 5.3 tonnes confiscated in all of 2021.

According to navy statements, 3,004 kilograms of cocaine were seized off the southern coast of Baja California on February 15; 1,119 kilos were confiscated off the coast of Chiapas on February 19; a shipment of 716 kilos was seized off the coast of Chiapas on February 17; and 120 kilos were seized in the port of Manzanillo on an unspecified date in the second half of February.

The first three seizures, in which speedboats were used to bring the drug to Mexico, add up to 4.84 tonnes.

Go-fast boats that are capable of speeds of up to 100 kph are used to bring cocaine to Mexico from countries with coastlines on the Pacific Ocean such as Colombia, Ecuador and Guatemala. They refuel at “floating gas stations” made up of supply boats routinely disguised as fishing vessels, the newspaper Milenio reported. They also supply smugglers with food, water and batteries for communication equipment.

Criminal groups such as the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and the Sinaloa Cartel are allegedly responsible for bringing the drugs into the country via sea routes.

In addition to confiscating almost five tonnes of cocaine last month, the navy seized at least five vessels involved in smuggling operations and arrested 18 people, including five Guatemalans and five Ecuadorians. The navy pursued the smugglers with planes, helicopters and its own speedboats.

Information provided by naval authorities in Colombia and the United States aided the operations carried out by Mexican marines, according to a navy official who spoke with Milenio.

“There is prior work [done] well in advance through the exchange of information with national and international authorities. It facilitates our work,” said Rear Admiral Artemio Cuervo, director of the Navy Ministry’s command and control center.

The more than three tonnes of cocaine seized on February 15 was allegedly destined for Caborca, a northern border municipality in Sonora with a coastline on the Gulf of California.

Had the shipment reached that municipality, Sinaloa Cartel members affiliated with the sons of imprisoned drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán would have allegedly taken possession of it, presumably in order to smuggle it into the United States.

A 2021 navy report said that criminal organizations such as the CJNG and the Sinaloa Cartel are outsourcing the retrieval of cocaine shipments to smaller groups posing as fishing cooperatives. The cartels contract local gangs in the southern states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero to fetch large shipments of cocaine out at sea, the report said.

With reports from Milenio

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