The European Police Office said Friday that Mexican criminal gangs are trying to establish themselves as major players in Europe’s drug market and reportedly have been involved in the region in cases of weapons and human trafficking.
Mexican drug gangs are now “global market coordinators” of cocaine trafficking to Europe and North America, as well as of synthetic drug production and distribution in those two markets and in Asia, Europol said in a press release.
Mexican cartels such as Los Zetas, which the agency characterized as a “powerful and violent criminal syndicate,” also participate in trafficking human beings for sexual exploitation from northeast Europe to Mexico.
“Mexican criminal groups are also trafficking firearms from southeast Europe to barter with criminals involved in the cocaine trade in Central South America,” the press release said.
Europol said it recently stymied plans by Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa cartel - headed by billionaire fugitive Joaquin ”El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman - to establish a foothold in Europe and develop its wholesale cocaine business in that region.
The EU law-enforcement agency said these gangs have an “extremely violent operating culture,” although only “an isolated number of violent incidents” attributed to them have occurred in Europe to date, including an attempted murder.
“We do not want the level of violence and brutality which we see in Mexico mirrored in Europe,” Europol Director Rob Wainwright said, referring to the tens of thousands of drug-related deaths in Mexico in recent years.
Europol said it has distributed its latest threat notice concerning Mexican organized crime’s impact in Europe to its cooperation partners in that region and elsewhere.