The world’s largest container line, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), has suspended some land operations in Brazil, fearing that drug smugglers may enter boxes heading for North America and Europe.
MSC, based in Geneva, sent a notification to clients in Brazil last week, stating that criminals were intercepting containers in an attempt to export drugs offshore.
As a result, MSC has decided to halt the filling and pre-stacking of road, rail, and barge boxes for export throughout Brazil indefinitely.
“This only concerns some intermodal operations including stuffing of containers in Brazil,” a spokesperson for MSC told Splash.
With the impending acquisition of Brazilian regional container shipping firm Log-In Logistica, MSC is preparing to expand its coverage in Brazil, Latin America’s largest country.
Drug busts aboard MSC ships have made headlines in recent years, with the liner’s Customs-Trade Partnership (C-TPAT) certification being temporarily revoked after a record $1.1 billion cocaine haul was discovered on the MSC Gayane in 2019.
According to figures from the International Chamber of Shipping, nearly 90% of all cocaine, 45 % of all cannabis, and 30% of all amphetamine-type stimulants captured globally between January 2017 and April 2020 were transported by water.
In a report released earlier this month by InSight Crime, a platform covering organized crime in Latin America, Brazil’s top port, Santos, was described as “cocaine’s world trade center.”
According to the research, the port has become a “critical lynchpin” for the worldwide cocaine traffic, with much of the expansion attributed to the advent of the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC), a powerful drug gang that rules So Paulo.
“The gang has efficiently extended its drug trafficking tentacles across the region, focusing especially on Paraguay and into Bolivia. In doing so, the PCC controls several major cocaine trafficking routes, with the drug being produced in Bolivia and transported through Paraguay and Brazil to Santos,” according to InSight Crime.