The Number of Small Fishing Vessels Smuggling Illegal Drugs Has Tripled

A lack of options for commercial fishermen in coastal communities has led to a boom in trafficking

By Joshua Rapp Learn

HMS Montrose drug haul. Image via CMF

The story of how illegal drugs make their way across the ocean often starts with a failing or banned fishing fleet in a marginalized coastal community. The reasons vary, but depleted seafood stocks from overfishing in areas of Asia, polluted waters in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, and the declaration of a new marine protected area in the Caribbean have all stopped fishers from earning their livelihood and sparked some vessels to turn to shipping illicit substances, according to an international team of researchers who recently analyzed drug busts.


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