With open borders, Cuba goes back into the drug-dealing business

In a disturbing report out of Panama, Panamanian authorities have made a new bust linked to Cuba, intercepting a huge shipment of cocaine worth $90 million at the canal, bound for Turkey.

Babalu has a report, based on a news item spotted in CiberCuba:

Panamanian authorities on Saturday intercepted 46 suitcases containing an estimated $90 million in illegal drugs on a cargo ship that arrived from a Cuban port and was en route to Istanbul, Turkey. The suitcases contained 1,517 packages of drugs hidden in a container declared as containing charcoal.

Authorities are still investigating and no arrests have been made. There has been no confirmation the drugs originated in Cuba, but the Turkish government has close ties to the Castro dictatorship. Moreover, the Castro dictatorship has a long history of drug trafficking in partnerships with drug cartels and the Colombian narco-terrorist organization, FARC.

We could add that FARC is a side hustle.  Venezuela, whose top leaders are under U.S. sanctions for drug-trafficking, is even tighter with and more important to Cuba.  Venezuela is running as many as five drug flights from the country each night — according to Jackson Diehl's excellent column in the Washington Post, noting that the figures have soared significantly.  The cocaine trade is how the socialist hellhole stays afloat.  Cuba is in the same boat and has relied on drug-dealing in the past.  Now with Cuban officials running Venezuela's internal security apparatus, it's just as possible they're directing this from Caracas.

As for how Cuba is run under a communist monopoly, it's hard to think this couldn't be anything but a state operation.  If the cocaine shipment was improbably the work of bad actors, there could be no doubt they've paid off regime officials, because nothing gets out of Cuban ports without communist authorities knowing about it.

So the Castro crime family has gone back into the drug-dealing business.  It shouldn't be a surprise, given the fiscal straits Cuba is in with the economic collapse of Venezuela and the loss of its Algerian sugar daddy after that ally's longtime dictator got thrown out.  We could argue that they never stopped, given that they were the ones who made Pablo Escobar "great," igniting the cocaine trade in the 1970s.  But there has been notable waxing and waning in its activities.

Here are two previous cases of Castro's smuggling operations in recent years, one caught in Colombia and another caught at the Panama Canal.

Now there's this, and the motive is unmistakable.

Cuba produces nothing of value to support its government or people, but its oligarchs can leverage the country's geography and sovereign safe haven for major international drug-dealers and thinks it can get away with it.  With drug laws becoming increasingly lax in the West and borders becoming increasingly unenforced, the scenario is ideal.

The Babalu account notes Cuba's close ties to Turkey (ditto for Venezuela, by the way), and that's an important detail, because Turkey has ties with the European Union and seeks full Schengen (open borders) rights.  It doesn't have those just yet, but trade-wise, the arrangements are free, and if Turkey's anti-Western quasi-dictatorship wants to help Cuba along with its drug trade, there is little reason to think it won't do that.

Turkey is handy, but there's also the United States, home of a very long unenforced border and a migrant surge that is explicitly thwarting drug cartel operations as it forces the U.S. to redirect its resources toward babysitting migrants.  Does anyone think the Castroites haven't thought about this?

It seems like a given. 

Image credit: Panamanian authority SENAN, via Twitter screen shot

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