Read the full story here.International drug traffickers have long used people as mules to smuggle their products overseas but a massive bust in Colombia suggests they are now using the same method to bring their dirty cash home.
On Thursday Colombian authorities at Bogota's international airport arrested 27 people accused of swallowing wads of cash and bringing them into the South American nation from Mexico. The money, sent by Mexican drug cartels, was intended to pay Colombian gangs for cocaine.
Authorities said that mules often swallowed up to 120 pellets of cash, with five $100 bills in each latex capsule. A typical ingestion would conceal and move $40,000 a person, though investigators said they previously caught someone with $75,000 in their system.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) assisted with the operation that brought down Thursday’s smuggling ring.
Read the full story here.MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Federal agents said Wednesday that they detained four people in a raid on a clandestine lab that apparently produced the synthetic opioid fentanyl in Mexico City.
Only a few such labs have been detected in Mexico in recent years, though Mexico is one of the main suppliers of the deadly drug.
Much of the illicit fentanyl consumed in the U.S. originates in China, but is often smuggled through Mexico. Mexican cartels have also been known to produce the drug from precursor chemicals mainly imported from China.
Read the full story here.ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greek authorities say they have seized 6.5 tons of cannabis and a large quantity of pills containing the banned stimulant Fenethylline hidden in a tug boat on the south coast of the island of Crete.
Read the full story here.Three Toronto men are facing drug trafficking charges after police allegedly seized 68 kilograms of powdered cocaine, as well as other drugs and cash, during a series of raids on Jan. 9 dubbed Project Sparta.
"The cocaine alone at the kilogram level, that's (worth) $3.4 million," Drug Squad Insp., Steve Watts explained at a morning news conference. "At the street level, it's $6.8 million.
"This is a massive amount of product once it's down to the gram level."
Police also say they seized seven kilograms of ketamine, five kilograms of MDMA, one kilogram of methamphetamine, 120 pounds of marijuana, and $343,759 in cash.
Read the full story here.US Customs and Border Protection made the largest seizure of fentanyl in the agency's history on Saturday at the Nogales port of entry on the US-Mexico border, Port Director Michael Humphries announced Thursday.
Officers uncovered 100 packages of fentanyl weighing nearly 254 pounds and with an estimated value of $3.5 million, Humphries said. The fentanyl was mostly in powder form, with some in pill form.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. Unlike morphine or heroin, which are derived from the opium poppy, synthetics such as oxycodone and the extremely potent fentanyl are manufactured purely from chemicals.
Nearly 650 pounds of illegal drugs were removed from the trailer in total. The drugs, which also included almost 395 pounds of methamphetamine, were concealed within a tractor-trailer transporting produce.
Officers also found 300 packages of methamphetamine, which has an estimated value of $1.18 million. This was the third-largest seizure of meth in Arizona ports of entry.
Read the full story here.The RCMP says it has cracked down on an elaborate international money-laundering network operated by organized-crime cells in Montreal and Toronto.
Police arrested 17 people in early morning raids in the two cities Monday, seizing more than $32.8 million in assets.
"It is by depriving criminal groups of their money-laundering networks that we will shake the very structure of organized crime,'' said RCMP Supt. Martine Fontaine Tuesday at a news conference.
The network had the capacity to launder millions of dollars, she said.
During the investigation and the searches, police seized drugs including cannabis, cocaine, hashish and methamphetamine, with a market value of close to $2.2 million, the RCMP said.
Read the full story here.(Bloomberg) — Senegal seized 1,650 pounds of cocaine Sunday on a ship traveling from Brazil, hidden inside 15 cars with final destinations that included Europe, in the latest large drug seizure off the West African coast this year.
The cocaine was packed in travel bags in the cars on the ship, which had arrived at the port in the capital Dakar on Saturday, news site Dakaractu reported, citing port authorities. The cars were destined for Germany and Ghana, the website said.
Record cocaine busts in Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau earlier this year indicate West Africa is making a comeback as a transit point for cocaine from South America to Europe.
Published by:A video of a drug bust released Thursday by the United States Coast Guard looks like a scene out of a Hollywood action movie.
The footage shows members of the Coast Guard in pursuit of a semi-submarine—a vessel that was partially underwater, and partially exposed—that had been barreling through the eastern Pacific Ocean while carrying more than 17,000 pounds of cocaine.
“Stop your ship!” a member of the coast guard can be heard yelling in the minute-long footage, as his vessel bears down on the semi-submarine.
Midway through the video is when things get particularly dramatic. With the Coast Guard ship practically touching the target, a member of the crew eventually leaps atop the semi-submersible vessel, which is known as a “narco-sub.” As waves crash against him, the coast guardsman pounds on the top of the vessel before an individual, whose face was obscured by the Coast Guard, emerges from the submarine’s hatch.
The events documented in the video occurred on June 18. It was just one of 14 drug raids over the two months by the Coast Guard, as the U.S. ramps up its efforts to stop smugglers traversing from Central and South America. Since May, the Coast Guard says that it has confiscated roughly $569 million worth of cocaine and marijuana. Vice President Mike Pence was at the Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado on Thursday as 39,000 pounds of cocaine and 933 pounds of marijuana were taken off the island. In addition, 55 accused smugglers were taken into custody.
Cracking down on drugs brought into the United States has been a top priority for the Trump administration, which has advocated hardline immigration and border security policies.
On Thursday, Pence saluted the Coast Guard for seizing $3.6 billion worth of illegal drugs and detaining more than 400 smugglers already this year.
“The courageous service of the [U.S. Coast Guard] is saving lives!” Pence said on Twitter.
He added in a subsequent tweet: “The drugs that are brought across our border bring billions in healthcare expenses, crime & the loss of thousands of Americans lives. The challenges & threats the [U.S. Coast Guard] face underscore why President [Trump] & our administration are determined to SECURE our border!”
The vessel shown in the footage released on Thursday was carrying five individuals, according to CNN. Such semi-submersible vessels are far from commonplace in the world of smugglers, due to their exorbitant costs. But when they are deployed, they can be exceedingly difficult for the Coast Guard to track — unless they’re spotted by an aircraft.
“They blend in,” Lt. Commander Stephen Brickey told CNN. “Most of the vessel is underwater, so it’s hard to pick out. They’re painted blue. They match the water.”