Portugal is back on the route of major drug traffickers. The escalating refugee crisis combined with this summer’s relatively calm Atlantic waters have seen criminal gangs return here with a vengeance.
Portugal is now the “most used” European country to ferry drugs to other destinations, claims national media.
In a special report over the weekend, Jornal de Notícias described “intense contacts with fishermen” persuaded to aid traffickers bring their multi-million euro merchandise ashore.
National tabloid Correio da Manhã also carried a two-page spread on record seizures made off the coast this summer.
Both allude to the fact that Portuguese fishermen dogged by bureaucracy and limits on what they can catch are seeing traffickers as their ‘el Dorado’.
Diário de Notícias has also run the story, stressing how drug seizures along the coast this summer went through the roof.
“In three months, the PJ apprehended 5158 kilos of cocaine in five operations,” DN explains.
The street value of the seizures runs to “over €160 million”.
It is a scale of apprehensions “unseen since 2007”, said the paper.
But the problem is that for every ‘good arrest’, there is the concern that elsewhere drug traffickers are getting away scot-free.
Blasting news – the online independent news portal – quotes Portuguese media, saying: “Right now Portugal could truly be one of the favourite routes for the world’s trafficking gangs as in Syria, Turkey and Pakistan, military action has forced these criminals to adapt.”
JN adds: “The Portuguese coast has always been on traffickers’ radar, but there is renewed interest now due to migration – particularly from Galician cocaine traffickers and Colombians”.
What that means is that “Portuguese authorities are accompanying the situation closely”.
DN adds that the “criminal peak” witnessed this summer has also a lot to do with the relatively calm seas – which will now start becoming rougher as winter approaches.
A police source has been quoted by DN as saying that trafficking is expected now to slow-down as “maritime conditions worsen and make navigation more complicated”.
The PJ has pinpointed Colombia and Venezuela are two of the countries notorious for being “embarking platforms” for cocaine on its way into Europe.