Court Docs Describe Sinaloa Cartel Expansion in Australia

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Documents filed in a US District Court describe how an alleged Sinaloa Cartel collaborator discussed the use of private aircraft to move millions of dollars of cash between Australia and the US, as part of the cocaine trade.

As The Australian reports, court documents filed by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) recount how a Sinaloa Cartel collaborator, referred to as “Individual A,” met with an undercover agent posing as a pilot in Illinois and discussed shipping cocaine and cash between Australia and the US.

Individual A said that his organization would move millions of dollars from Australia to the US, use the funds to buy cocaine, then move it back to Australia. Individual A was later arrested by authorities and agreed to become an informant.  He collaborated in the capture last year of Chicago-based Sinaloa Cartel collaborator, Jose Mares Barregan.

The Australian Crime Comission said that the Sinaloa Cartel was expanding inside the country thanks to the value of the Australian dollar, as well as a growing domestic market for cocaine. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The Illinois case serves as further indication of the increased role that Mexican cartels are playing in the international transhipment and distribution of cocaine. Mexico groups like the Sinaloa Cartel have now replaced Colombian criminal syndicates as the primary global distributors of cocaine, while the Colombian role now mainly consists of selling product to the Mexican groups. While Colombian groups do control some international trafficking routes — particularly into Spain and Europe — this is increasingly becoming the exception rather than the rule. 

The increased value of cocaine in Australia is possibly one reason why the Sinaloa Cartel sees the country as such a lucrative market. A kilo of cocaine in Texas sells for $16,000, compared to up to $250,000 in Sydney, as NPR reported last year

The Mexican organization is thought to collaborate with local Australian criminal groups in the distribution of cocaine, including biker gangs

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