Brazil’s authorities seized 50 percent more cocaine in 2019 than it did in 2018, breaking previous records — and the year isn’t even over yet.
According to Globo, Brazilian police seized 31.5 tons of cocaine last year, which set a new record back then. From January to October 2019, authorities seized an additional 47.1 tons of cocaine, with 85 percent of that coke found at just four of Brazil’s ports. While shipping ports often serve as hubs for drug trafficking, the amounts seized at the Brazilian ports suggest that corruption is rampant in the nation’s shipping industry, Business Insider reported.
Where is all of this coke coming from, and why has demand spiked so dramatically in recent years?
Brazil’s neighbors, such as Peru and Colombia, produce most of the world’s cocaine, with the majority made in Colombia. Furthermore, there’s a cocaine revival exploding in Europe right now, with street prices reaching astronomical amounts in the past year alone. According to the latest UN World Drug Report, a gram of snow runs about $65 in the US, whereas in Europe that same gram goes for $100-200, depending on the country. Australia has it the worst (or the best, depending one how you see it), where average cocaine prices can reach as high as $300 a gram.
How bad has the cocaine issue gotten in Brazil? In June, a Brazilian Air Force officer traveling with Brazil’s President Bolsonaro was busted with a whopping 86 pounds (39 kilos) of pure cocaine on one of the president’s back-up planes. While authorities never connected the bust with the president himself, one has to wonder how much cocaine was trafficked right under Bolsonaro’s nose.
The cocaine problem reaches well beyond South America and Europe, as well. This week, US authorities arrested Mexico’s former Secretary of Public Security, Genaro Garcia Luna, for conspiring with Mexican cartels to smuggle cocaine around the world. To give you some idea of how big the Luna bust is, imagine if the US Director of Homeland Security was accused of moving heroin across national borders. It’s the biggest arrest of a Mexican official by US authorities. Ever.
And while Brazil may have it bad, the US isn’t doing much better, either. This summer, US Customs officials made the biggest cocaine bust in American history — at 17.5 tons of pure white — with a street value of over $1 billion. A seizure of that size indicates that just as much, if not more, cocaine is actively flowing through America’s underground markets.
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