cocaine UK
National Crime Agency says Romanian crime syndicate can import large quantities of cocaine into the UK NCA

One of Mexico's deadliest drug cartels has gone into business with a Romanian gang to smuggle cocaine into the UK, crime experts fear.

The Sinaloa cartel is considered as one of the "most powerful drug trafficking organisation in the world".

The crime organisation is headed by the infamous drug kingpin Joaquin Guzman, known as "El Chapo", the Shorty. He escaped from maximum security prisons in Mexico twice. In January, he was extradited to the US, where he lives in solitary confinement as he waits for his trial.

A European syndicate of the Sinaloa is now collaborating with an unnamed Romanian gang "with the capability to import large amounts of cocaine into the UK on a weekly basis", the National Crime Agency (NCA) said in a statement quoted by The Times.

"Intelligence indicates that the Romanian OCG [organised crime group] are still being supplied by a Mexican OCG linked to the Sinaloa Cartel," the statement read.

The agency said Mexican cartels have increasingly sought to maximise profits by establishing a foothold in the UK drug market where cocaine prices are high.

It is believed the Sinaloa's new alliance will raise concerns over security at entry points for UK-bound lorries and ferries.

The NCA added that previous investigations and "historic operations" tracked UK-based criminals who had travelled to or established themselves in Mexico to oversee the supply and transportation of drugs.

"These drugs were transported via courier to varying European airports such as Frankfurt and Brussels before transiting on to the UK,"the NCA said in its statement.

"A number of these couriers were intercepted at European airports with 4-5 kgs of cocaine in their possession. A 2014 MPS operation involved the rip on of cocaine at Mexico City airport and the rip off at London Heathrow".

When contacted by IBTimes UK, a spokesperson for NCA said the agency could not provide further information on the identity of the Romanian gang and how it operates in the UK.

However, the agency said in its statement: "It is assessed that this network of OCGs will continue to supply large volumes of class A drugs into the UK. Previous significant interdictions of their supply has not deterred the group from continuing their criminal activity aimed at the UK market."

In 2016, a Romanian coach driver was arrested and sentenced to 17 years after he was caught caught trying to smuggle £18m ($23m) worth of cocaine in the UK on a coach full of schoolchildren.

The cocaine was found when the couch, travelling from Dunkirk, France, stopped at Eastern Docks in Dover.

Last year also saw the conviction of three men who attempted to smuggle into the UK more than £80m worth of cocaine.

"The NCA collaborates with international partners to target and disrupt OCGs seeking to import drugs into the United Kingdom," the agency said in a statement sent to IBTimes UK.

"This collaboration and activity ranges from delivering criminal justice outcomes in the UK to upstream disruptions (for example maritime interdictions such as Operation Screenplay)."