A purge on dope farms in the North African nation is causing headaches for crooks as the supply chain to Scottish cities has been disrupted.
A massive crackdown by Moroccan authorities on the country’s multi-billion-pound cannabis industry has disrupted Scotland’s organised crime groups.
Record-breaking seizures of the drug by law enforcement agencies in Morocco have led to a shortage of supplies.
The crackdown has put financial pressure on poverty-hit farmers who say they rely on the trafficking of the Class B drug to feed their families.
Sources say the hard line has been ordered by the king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, who has previously been accused of turning a blind eye to the illegal trade and tolerating cannabis exports.
Morocco is the world’s biggest producer of hashish which is grown on massive illegal plantations in the north of the country.
But last year, police arrested 127,049 people in drug-related cases – an increase of 38 per cent compared to the previous year.
Earlier this month the security services seized 2.4 tonnes of cannabis in a major operation – sending a clear message that the zero tolerance policy would not be relaxed.
In 2019, police intercepted 179.6 tonnes of the drug which had been earmarked for markets in Europe, including major cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh. The figure was a 27-tonne increase on 2018.
However a high-ranking official within the government, Khalid Zerouali, revealed other security forces including the Royal Gendarmerie, seized an eye-watering 321 tonnes last year.
The purge has caused a massive headache for Scottish drug gangs who rake in millions of pounds a year from smuggling and distributing the drug.
A kilo of cannabis normally costs about £1200 but the short supply caused by Morocco’s increased seizures has seen its street value rocket to £2000. The highest grade of the drug was £3000 but now costs £4500 per kilo.
Scottish crime groups have forged strong links with Moroccan gangs who produce the drug and transport it to the continent before it travels north of the border.
One Glasgow underworld source who has links to the drugs trade said: “Thefarmers in Morocco are going crazy because they’re not making any money.
“They say the crackdown has been ordered by the king, who’s told the authorities to seize everything they find.
“Until now, it was easy to get stuff out of Morocco. It was the second and third parts of the journey that posed problems.The right people were paid to turn a blind eye to cannabis being exported but that’s all changed.
“Some is getting through but not as much as before and that has seen the price go up significantly.
“The farmers say that unless things are relaxed soon, they’ll have to find other ways to feed their families. That’ll include committing other crimes.”
The cannabis trade in Morocco is believed to be worth about £8billion a year.
The drug costs £100 a kilo when bought from a farmer. That price has soared by the time it reaches the United Kingdom because of the costs involved in transporting the drugs and bribing officials.