The EU seeks to lead cocaine trafficking to Europe with Colombia and Ecuador

The leaders of the transnational criminal organizations behind the increasing arrival of cocaine shipments by sea at the ports of Europe They will be the objective and priority of the new cooperation that the European Union (EU) seeks to establish with Colombia and Ecuador.

This was stated in an interview with EFE by the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, after her first day in Quito of her tour of Ecuador and Colombia together with the Belgian Minister of the Interior, Annelies Verlinden, to increase cooperation against drug trafficking and organized crime.

"The priority is to go for leadership in these organized criminal groups"indicated the former Swedish minister Johansson, who has proposed to the Council of the EU to start a negotiation for a bilateral agreement for the exchange of personal data information between Europol and the National Police of Ecuador.

The European Commissioner warned that "criminals are organized as multinational companies and are very strong"Besides that "they are organized and very quick to adapt to new circumstances".

"For this reason, we need to be much stronger in our international cooperation. We need a network to fight against a network, and I have found here in Ecuador a great willingness to intensify our cooperation."Johansson said.

"We are also discussing how we can establish an intelligence center in the port of Guayaquil. (…) The important thing is to have quick access and share information, experiences and knowledge"he added.

Guayaquil port in focus

The port of Guayaquil, located on the Guayas River, is the largest in Ecuador and the main reason for Johansson’s South American tour, the first European Commissioner for Home Affairs to travel to Latin America.

According to the Belgian authorities, at least half of the record 110 tons of cocaine seized in 2022 in the port of Antwerp came from Guayaquil.which last year was also pointed out by the United Nations as one of the main springboards in South America for cocaine reaching Europe.

Johansson and Verlinden visited the Guayaquil port terminals on Tuesday to "learn more about how they are working today".

"Also to discuss how we can deepen our cooperation and how we can have more cooperation, port to port and exchange of information, including also the private sector and shipping"said the European Commissioner.

Asked if the Government of Ecuador has requested help or advice from the European Union (EU) in its plan to provide ports with container scanners, Johansson indicated that there has been no request in this regard, and valued the intention promised by the Executive to try to control all port cargo with those scanners.

Safety, a shared priority

From her meetings with the Ecuadorian authorities, the former Swedish minister highlighted "an enormous willingness to deepen police cooperation, port-to-port cooperation and cooperation to combat corruption, and also with regard, especially to the fight against drugs".

Johansson reiterated that both Colombia and Ecuador are countries that share principles and values ​​with the EU.

In addition, anticipated that mechanisms to strengthen cooperation against drug trafficking and organized crime will continue to be evaluated at the summit between the EU and Latin America which will take place in July in Madrid, under the rotating presidency of Spain within the European bloc.

"It is really important because, both for the citizens of Latin America and for the citizens of the Member States of the European Union, the issue of security is a priority on the agenda and it is important that we take a step forward"Johansson noted.

"It is necessary that this also be on the agenda of this very important summit that will take place under the Spanish Presidency"he concluded.

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