World

Mexican Cartels Employ New Discreet Strategy To Transfer Cocaine North

Ecuadorian fishermen are playing an important role in Mexican cartel operations by transporting cocaine via boat to Central America so the drug can then be transported to Mexico, and finally the U.S.

At least 300 Ecuadorian fishermen have been arrested in Colombia, the United States and Guatemala over the past three years for their roles in drug trafficking for Mexican cartels, Ecuadorian newspaper El Comercio reported Tuesday. Gangsters have been intimidating and luring impoverished fishermen and their families into accepting risky business propositions in exchange for hefty sums of cash.

One fisherman anonymously spoke with El Comercio saying he was offered $80,000 to move two tons of cocaine to Central America. The cartel provided the fisherman with coordinates for where he could refuel the boat during the trek, as well as the name of the contact he would meet off the coast of Central America to offload the drugs. The fisherman was told he would get $8,000 before departure, and would receive the remainder of the money two weeks after he completed the coke delivery. The anonymous man did not take the cartel’s offer.

Colombian gangs have recently established a forceful presence along the Ecuadorian coast on behalf of allied Mexican cartels. Colombian drug trafficking organizations such as Rastrojos and Urabeños have ties to the Marxist Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Sinaloa Cartel. Urabeños also has ties to the notoriously violent Los Zetas Mexican cartel.

Ecuador has long been seen by U.S. intelligence officials as a weak spot in the war on drugs in Latin America. Colombian drug traffickers have been linked to Ecuador for decades, not only for the purposes of drug transportation, but also for money laundering.

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