The closure of the border between Morocco and Spain, following the Covid-19 health crisis, is disrupting the routes of cannabis transport to Europe. While the usual routes to Europe are closed by the pandemic, Moroccan drug traffickers are looking for alternative routes.
Their current plan B consists of loading trucks and then fishing boats into the ports on the Atlantic coast to transport their goods to the Old Continent. And since the security services have imposed an internal lockdown since the start of the pandemic which has limited the movements of drug traffickers between cities, they have had to adopt a longer alternative route, they who usually transport cannabis, cultivated in the mountains from the northern Rif, for the short distance that separates them from the Mediterranean coast.
"They load food trucks across Morocco, then fishing boats leaving from Atlantic ports," police and national intelligence spokesman Boubker Sabik said. For now, the police have succeeded in paralyzing the smuggling networks during the lockdown (maintained until June 10), indicating a "radical change" in the methods of trafficking, he told AFP.
While the distance between Tangier and spain across the Strait of Gibraltar, is only 14 km, smugglers must now take a long road and make appointments at sea with European smugglers in international waters, to bring drugs, for hours, from the Rif to the isolated beaches of Sidi Abed, 217 km south of Rabat, According to the Moroccan police, they load trucks and then fishing boats in the ports of the Atlantic coast to transport the local cannabis to the Old Continent.
Drug trafficking “strongly affected” by confinement according to the Interior Ministry
Police say they seized "only" 32,6 tonnes of cannabis resin, known as hashish, during the containment period, and 62 tonnes since the start of the year, compared to 210 tonnes seized last year. Traffickers, as we know, are constantly adapting.
The gangs opt for coasts far from Europe, requiring long and expensive trips to sea in order to find a safer route according to Boubker Sadik, spokesperson for Moroccan National Security.
Drug seizures in North Africa and the Middle East, however, show that restrictions on the coronavirus have failed to stop the drug trade.
At the same time, Morocco says it wants to reduce the cultivation of cannabis concentrated in the Rif region, by offering subsidies to farmers to start other crops. According to official figures from the Moroccan government, the land used for cannabis fields increased from 134000 hectares in 2003 to stabilize six years ago at 47000 hectares. But since then, the hectares of crops have increased significantly.
However, restrictions on the coronavirus have severely disrupted South American cocaine shipments passing through Morocco, a stopover on the way to Europe.
In other countries subject to containment is developing a new operating mode traffickers who use home delivery services to transport drugs, recently alerted Interpol.