- US customs authorities seized a container ship financed by JPMorgan this week after the authorities discovered about 18 tonnes of cocaine with an estimated market value of $ 1.3 billion.
- The influx of drugs on the MSC Gayane, Liberian flag, is surprising for several reasons.
- It should be noted the amount of cocaine that she was carrying, her connections with JPMorgan, her presence in the United States and the recent series of drug abuse cases in West Africa.
A container ship financed by JPMorgan was seized this week by US Customs officials after the authorities found about 18 tons of cocaine with an estimated market value of $ 1.3 billion. The collapse of the drug on MSC Gayane is surprising for several reasons that we describe below.
The quantity of cocaine
REUTERS / Thomas Mukoya
Some 39,500 pounds or 17.9 metric tons of cocaine – about the same weight as three African male elephants – found aboard the MSC Gayane, exceeded the total amount of cocaine transited through Africa. West in 2013 and all cocaine seized across Africa between 2013 and 2016, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The large quantity could reflect an overabundance of supply. According to the World Drug Report 2018, global cocaine manufacture increased by a quarter in 2016, reaching 1,410 tons. The boom in production is centered in Colombia, where coca cultivation grew 17 percent to 171,000 hectares in 2017, according to UNODC.
The link to JPMorgan
The link between MSC Gayane and JPMorgan may be the most surprising aspect of the collapse of drugs.
The MSC Gayane is operated by Mediterranean Shipping Co., a company based in Switzerland, but JPMorgan has contributed to the financing of the purchase of the boat by MSC. The pair would have structured the purchase so that the boat belongs to the client's assets in a managed transportation strategy fund for the asset management branch of JPMorgan.
JPMorgan has not yet publicly spoken of his association with the ship and declined to comment to Markets Insider.
The Liberian connection
Flickr / jmoneyyyyyyy
The Gayane MSC sailed under the flag of Liberia, a country in West Africa. West Africa is a popular transit route for smugglers between South America and Europe due to its porous borders, weak rule of law, largely unguarded coastline and its infrastructure and limited resources. The proportion of cocaine seizures in Africa, including West Africa, rose to 78% in 2016, "reflecting the growing importance of West Africa. as a transit zone, "said UNODC.
However, there appears to be little drug trafficking between West Africa and the United States, making the collapse of MSC Gayane very unusual. High selling prices and the risk of being caught make Europe a more lucrative and attractive market than the United States, the Nigerian drug dealer Chigbo Umeh told The Guardian in 2015.
The links with the rise of drug trafficking in West Africa
AP Photo / Matt Rourke
The influx of drugs on a Liberian-flagged vessel is the latest in a series of major seizures related to the countries of West Africa this year.
In May 2018, Algerian officials seized more than 1,500 pounds of cocaine from a Liberian container ship carrying frozen meat from Brazil, according to the BBC. In February of this year, Cape Verdean officials discovered 21,000 pounds of cocaine, with a market value of $ 700 million north, on a Panama-flagged vessel. A month later, the Guinea-Bissau authorities had beheaded their largest bust of cocaine – and the country's first bust for a decade – when they had discovered nearly 800 kilograms or more than 1,700 pounds of the drug concealed in the false bottom of a truck filled with fish. .
"There were doubts about the fact that West Africa is still being used as a major transit route, but these seizures seem to suggest a comeback," said Mark Shaw, director of the United States. Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, in an interview with Bloomberg. "It's a surprise and it's very significant."