Top view of Container port and container ship transportation
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South American drug cartels using containers to ship their goods into consumer markets has been on a steep upward curve in recent years, as smugglers have begun to realise that the trade routes have become increasingly complicated due to transhipment operations. This analysis, in Maritime Executive by maritime law expert Ian Ralby, looks at last year’s discovery of 1.5 tonnes of cocaine in a container in Hamburg and contends that it was wrong for many at the time to focus on the fact that the box arrived on a CMA CGM ship. Far more attention needs to be paid to the journey of the box itself, rather than the vessel that carried it, he argues. “It may be more important to watch the movement of containers than it is to watch the movement of vessels when tracking drug shipments, particularly as container transhipment creates confusion as to the actors who may be involved in the journey of the drugs.  

“The news stories around this case, and even some criminology publications, all focused on the vessel that brought the container to Hamburg. The real story is the voyage of the container, as that is how we can determine how the drugs actually got from wherever they originated to Germany.” 

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