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The Jordan Harbinger Show

860: Mitchell Prothero | Cocaine, Murder, and Dirty Money in Europe

Thu Jul 13 2023
Cocaine TradeEuropeOrganized CrimeDrug TraffickingJournalismDubaiMoney LaunderingTerrorism


The episode explores the growing problem of the cocaine trade in Europe. It covers various aspects such as the recruitment of small-time drug dealers, the involvement of Moroccan criminals, the challenges faced by law enforcement, and the violence targeting journalists. The episode also delves into the connection between terrorism and organized crime networks, the role of Dubai in criminal activities, and the complex nature of money laundering. Overall, it provides insights into the intricate world of the European cocaine trade.


The cocaine trade in Europe is estimated to be around 8 to 10 billion euros per year

The market for cocaine in Europe is significant, with estimates suggesting an annual value of 8 to 10 billion euros.

Moroccan criminals have taken over moving drugs across Europe

Moroccan criminals have become dominant players in the European drug trade, particularly in moving drugs across borders.

Journalists who expose organized crime are targeted

Journalists who uncover the activities of organized crime groups face significant risks, including threats and acts of violence.

Dubai serves as a hub for criminal activities

Dubai has become a hotspot for criminal activities due to its lack of extradition treaties and lenient approach to certain crimes.

The line between legal and illegal money is blurred

In the globalized economy, distinguishing between legal and illegal money poses challenges for law enforcement and financial analysts.

Criminal activities in Europe are interconnected

Criminal activities such as drug trafficking and terrorism often overlap, creating complex networks that span multiple countries.

Violence is prevalent in the European cocaine trade

The European cocaine trade is marked by high levels of violence, including targeted killings and intimidation tactics.

Law enforcement faces difficulties in prosecuting drug-related crimes

Different countries have varying approaches to prosecuting drug-related offenses, leading to challenges in combating the drug trade.

The Iranian regime targets dissidents in Europe

The Iranian government has a history of hunting down and killing dissidents living in Europe, posing a threat to their safety.

Understanding the complex nature of the world is crucial

As the world continues to evolve and become more intricate, it is essential to embrace complexity and adapt to changing circumstances.


  1. Introduction
  2. Reporter's Experience Covering Middle East Conflicts and ISIS
  3. Albania as a Base for Investigating the Cocaine Trade
  4. Cocaine Trade in Europe and Recruitment of Small-Time Drug Dealers
  5. Differences Between Drug Dealers and Terrorists
  6. Cartels and Cash Flow
  7. Moroccan Criminals and the Cocaine Trade
  8. Mexican Cartels and the American Cocaine Trade
  9. Violence and Targeting of Journalists
  10. Criminal Activities in Dubai
  11. Money Laundering and Law Enforcement Challenges
  12. Insights and Conclusion


00:00 - 07:24

  • Airbnb is sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show
  • The cocaine trade in Europe is a growing problem
  • The estimates of what's smuggled are unknown
  • The market for cocaine keeps expanding each year in Eastern Europe
  • Jordan Harbinger Show decodes the stories, secrets, and skills of fascinating people
  • They offer episode starter packs organized by topic
  • Stitcher app will no longer work for the show

Reporter's Experience Covering Middle East Conflicts and ISIS

00:00 - 07:24

  • Erdogan winning the Turkish elections affected the reporter's ability to live in Turkey and cover Middle East news
  • The reporter has experience covering ISIS and other Middle East conflicts

Albania as a Base for Investigating the Cocaine Trade

00:00 - 07:24

  • Albania was chosen as a base due to its connection to the Balkans and Albanian mafia involvement in the cocaine trade
  • Albania is described as beautiful, cheap, and unspoiled
  • Getting to know Albanians has been interesting as they have a unique culture and history

Cocaine Trade in Europe and Recruitment of Small-Time Drug Dealers

00:00 - 07:24

  • The cocaine trade in Europe is estimated to be around 8 to 10 billion euros per year
  • Rotterdam and Antwerp ports handle a significant amount of cocaine trafficking
  • The purity of cocaine has been increasing over the years
  • Europe has surpassed the US as the world's largest market for cocaine
  • The expanding middle class in Eastern Europe contributes to the growth of the cocaine market
  • Estimating the value and quantity of seized cocaine is challenging for law enforcement agencies
  • A kilo of cocaine has a shelf life of about two years and retains its value over time
  • In the cocaine trade, it was easier to recruit small-time drug dealers than cartel guys
  • A large number of guys from Mullenbeek went into the jihadi community compared to Antwerp
  • Cocaine is smuggled out of containers in Antwerp and Rotterdam by sending teenage kids over the fence
  • Hotel containers are used to transport cocaine, with three guys hiding next to them during transit
  • The cocaine trade offers high profits compared to average salaries in the EU
  • The traffickers involved in smuggling cocaine are a mix of EU citizens and immigrants
  • Holland and Belgium have diverse communities due to refugee status and guest workers
  • Cocaine traffickers are motivated solely by money, unlike terrorists who have messages to convey

Differences Between Drug Dealers and Terrorists

00:00 - 07:24

  • Terrorists are eager to speak with journalists, but drug dealers prefer to keep a low profile and not talk to the media
  • Drug dealers prioritize longevity in the drug game by avoiding publicity and maintaining a basic business ring
  • Journalists who cover drug cartels in Holland face less threat compared to local journalists in Medellin or Mexico
  • Cocaine cartel members focus on logistics and would rather have conversations about supply-demand and on-time delivery than murder
  • While they engage in enforcement activities, they do seem to enjoy it, as revealed through intercepted encrypted messages
  • In the cocaine trafficking business, losing large amounts of money can lead to severe consequences, including physical harm or death
  • Some low-level drug dealers can make six-figure incomes without getting arrested and even go on vacation
  • In Amsterdam, there is a messaging service where customers can order cocaine for a fixed price and guaranteed quality

Cartels and Cash Flow

00:00 - 07:24

  • Cartel members in Europe face liquidity pressure due to the need for cash every month to support their operations and pay off debts
  • Despite being wealthy, cartel members are often cash poor and rely on constant cash flow
  • The Kinahan organized crime network in Ireland had to bring in about 20 million euros every month to sustain their operations
  • Moving large amounts of cash into Dublin from Dubai is challenging and attracts attention from law enforcement
  • Money laundering and managing the funds become crucial aspects for cartels
  • Cartel members are replaceable, but they possess strong organizational skills and logistics expertise

Moroccan Criminals and the Cocaine Trade

00:00 - 07:24

  • The Calabrian Mafia, the Indrangita, has a GDP estimated to be the size of Croatia's
  • Ridwan Thagi is a unique criminal figure in Europe and America
  • Toggi was involved in smuggling tobacco and hash between Morocco and Amsterdam
  • The Moroccan community became powerful in the ports of Antwerp and started pushing out other groups
  • They started getting paid in cocaine instead of cash for their services at the ports
  • This led to an exponential growth of their involvement in the drug trade as they became wholesalers themselves
  • Moroccan criminals have taken over moving drugs across Europe
  • After 2016, Moroccans started dealing directly with Colombians, which caused an explosion in their operations

Mexican Cartels and the American Cocaine Trade

00:00 - 07:24

  • Mexican cartels took over the American cocaine trade when Colombians started paying them in cocaine
  • After the Colombian peace deal in 2016, organizations started making their own kilos of cocaine and selling them in Europe
  • Controlling the source of drugs increases profits exponentially
  • Crime in Europe is lower compared to the United States, but there are still murders related to drug trafficking within specific communities
  • Criminals spread out their activities across different countries in Europe to avoid detection
  • A woman named Auntie Jimmy was a broker for cocaine deals and got involved in a dangerous situation

Violence and Targeting of Journalists

00:00 - 07:24

  • A Moroccan woman named Auntie Jimmy, who was a broker in cocaine, was kidnapped and disappeared after a deal went wrong
  • Her dismembered photos were forwarded to Ridwan Thaghi's Blackberry
  • Ridwan Thaghi is suspected of being responsible for multiple murders and attempted murders
  • Journalists who expose organized crime are targeted, with examples including a car driven through an office door and a rocket-propelled grenade shot through a window
  • Local journalists who work closely with organized crime are at the highest risk
  • Revealing corruption among police and politicians can also put journalists at risk
  • The murder of journalist Martin Koch was personal as he had printed Ridwan Thaghi's name and made jokes about him
  • Peter DeVries, a famous crime reporter in Holland, was killed and evidence points to Ridwan Thaghi's involvement

Criminal Activities in Dubai

00:00 - 07:24

  • Dubai has a high concentration of criminals per capita, likely due to the lack of extradition treaties with certain countries
  • The UAE is a police state but doesn't seem to care about crime as long as it doesn't affect their national security
  • Criminals in Dubai essentially pay an extortion fee to be protected by the state and continue their criminal activities
  • If criminals in Dubai run out of money, they are sent back to their home country and lose all their assets
  • Being a drug dealer is not a fun business, except for some low-level dealers who can stay safe by keeping their aspirations low
  • Some drug cartel money goes into investments like shopping malls, beach resorts, hotels, and infrastructure projects in Eastern Europe and Morocco

Money Laundering and Law Enforcement Challenges

00:00 - 07:24

  • The line between legal and illegal money becomes blurred in the integrated globalized economy
  • Law enforcement and analysts struggle to define when money transitions from legal to illegal
  • The Iranian dissident story involves an Iranian revolutionary who was killed by the Iranian regime
  • The dissident had been living under a fake identity in the Netherlands and was murdered by a hit ordered by the Iranian government
  • The Dutch and Belgian law enforcement systems have different approaches to prosecuting crimes involving drugs and weapons
  • In Europe, criminals may receive shorter sentences without having to provide information about their suppliers, leading to less violence
  • European prisons are seen as more lenient compared to where many criminals come from, such as Albania or Morocco

Insights and Conclusion

00:00 - 07:24

  • Three years in a Dutch prison proves trustworthiness in the Serbian, Moroccan, or Albanian mafia
  • 16-year-old kids in Rotterdam find getting arrested for crimes like busting into sealed kilos to be fun
  • The technology used to find the Iranian guy through a Facebook photo is troubling
  • Iranian operatives may follow major people's Facebook pages and scan for information
  • The Iranians have aggressive intelligence services and spies working in embassies
  • Ali Mob Med is a significant person that they were looking for, similar to Osama bin Laden
  • Countries can dedicate resources and manpower to track down individuals using social media
  • The Iranians have a history of hunting down dissidents and killing them in Europe
  • The world is always changing and complexifying, and we need to complexify with it
  • Our brains produce vision and constructs to build our world