Coffee and Crime

A couple of interesting stories about coffee related crime have come to my attention recently.

Higher Coffee Prices Causing Farmers Some Headaches

As many of you are aware, coffee prices have shot up over the last year or so. This is great news for farmers as they’re getting paid more for all the hard work they put into growing coffee. However, it’s also causing a few headaches.

farm watchThompson from Sweet Maria’s wrote last week about a container load of coffee (approximate value 150,000USD) that went missing in Guatemala, whilst en route to the port of Antigua. Usually containers are transported in secure convoy, but something went wrong in this case and the truck and its container have disappeared.

Thompson also report about another theft, this time in El Salvador. Thieves raided a farm in daylight and locked up the manager, before strip picking coffee off the trees. Not only did the farm loose the income from these cherries. But as the trees were damaged during the raid, its going to have a negative affect on the farms yield (and income) for years to come.

These apparently aren’t isolated incidents either. One commenter stated that the average cost of security on a Guatemalan farm is now around 6% of the total costs. So even through higher prices are a good thing for farmers. It’s having a knock on affect, making their farms and their produce more desirable targets for criminals.

Operation Caffe Machiato

Police in Naples said they had smashed a lucrative mafia coffee distribution business in an operation code-named “Caffe Macchiato”, seizing assets worth 600 million euros ($797 million).

Among those arrested was Feliciano Mallardo, the suspected boss of the clan, which specialized in selling espresso coffee machines to bars in the southern city.

“The clan’s companies had seized control of entire economic sectors: from the production and distribution of coffee to betting shops to the wholesale trade in drinks and pharmaceutical products,” the police said.

Is there a Connection?

You have to wonder whether this gang or others like it (as I am sure there’s more), are someway involved in thefts in Central America. This might be slightly Hollywoodised (I’ve watch a fair few mafia films in my time) but it’s possible that there’s some connection. It wouldn’t be that far fetched for the mafia to have acquaintances in Central America. After all to receive the biggest profit from their crime they need to acquire the coffee as cheaply as possible i.e. right from the bottom of the supply chain.