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Europe: New Agency Created to Battle Booming Cocaine Trade

Seven European countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean announced Sunday they have launched a new multinational agency to try to thwart the increasing volume of South American cocaine headed for insatiable European markets. The new agency, the Maritime Analysis and Operations Center, will help the various countries coordinate their efforts to find and seize cocaine shipments on the high seas.

The countries involved are Portugal, Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Britain and the Netherlands.

Europe has been living a cocaine boom in recent years, with prices declining even as use tripled over the past decade, according to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs Addiction. Perhaps not coincidentally, US officials this week touted an apparent cocaine price increase as a sign anti-drug policies are working, but some analysts have suggested that the apparent price increase is due in part to diversion of cocaine from the US to European markets.

Much of the trans-Atlantic cocaine trade is believed to be centered in West Africa, particularly Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau. Arrests of Colombians in the latter country have raised fears that the leftist FARC guerrillas have expanded operations there.

Last year, European law enforcement agencies seized about 100 tons of cocaine. But Spain and Portugal, the Iberian countries that make up the southwestern gateway to Europe, accounted for 70% of the seizures.

"We are the Atlantic border of Europe," Portuguese Justice Minister Alberto Costa said during a ceremony to inaugurate the agency. "Concern about the growing importance of the African western coast in this trade is one of the raisons d'être of this center," said Costa.

The US government will have observer status at the new European agency. The Europeans will be seeking expertise from American drug fighters who have more experience with Colombian trafficking and guerrilla organizations involved in the trade, said Tim Manhire, the executive director of the new agency.

"Clearly we will be looking to work with our American colleagues at trying to intervene in that environment," Manhire said. "Whether they are FARC members or not I couldn't say for sure, but clearly we know there are Colombians down there (in West Africa)," he added.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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This story

proves the lie of the White House that increased interdiction on the U.S. Mexican border is causing the price of cocaine in U.S. cities to increase.

What in fact is happening is that increasing global demand is outpacing supply and the price is increasing in the U.S. as a result.

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