Moroccan police have apprehended a woman from Angola, after body scans showed a large amount of cocaine in her possession.
The 46-year-old woman flew from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Casablanca, and police took her into custody shortly after she landed, according to a statement from the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN).
Authorities immediately took the Angolan woman to Ibn Rochd University Hospital Center for further medical examination, both to monitor her well-being and to recover any further amounts of cocaine she possessed. Sometimes, those carrying drugs, called “mules,” ingest the drugs in tiny capsules to avoid detection, posing a significant health risk to the drug mule if the capsules rupture.
Morocco is attempting to fight an increasing flow of cocaine originating from South America. Earlier this year, the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) announced that it seized a 541 kilogram shipment originating from Brazil and bound for Casablanca, according to Maghreb Arab Press. Police in Rabat made history by seizing 2.4 metric tons in 2017, the largest amount of cocaine ever confiscated in Morocco’s history.
As a result of more stringent drug interdiction efforts in the US, Latin American drug cartels like the Sinaloa and Los Zetas are beginning to move drugs through Africa and Europe instead.
The drugs usually arrive in coastal port cities in North and West Africa and are then transported across the Mediterranean to Europe. The traffickers view this route as much safer than attempting to transport the drugs across the heavily-watched US-Mexico border.
Morocco, in particular, is an attractive target and geographical location for drug traffickers. The short trip across the Strait of Gibraltar to Spain allows drug dealers to quickly access European markets.
Often, mules are economically disadvantaged people from developing nations in Africa, making it hard for investigators to eliminate the top figures in drug operations.
In this year alone, Moroccan police arrested a Lithuanian man with about 8.5 kilograms of cocaine, a Frenchman with 3 kilograms, and a woman from Sierra Leone with 1.5 kilograms, all at Casablanca’s Mohammed V Airport.