Cocaine and methamphetamine in ‘record availability’ in the EU: report

BRUSSELS: The cocaine and methamphetamine market is surging in Europe, according to an EU report on Friday, fueled by record levels of trafficking and sparking violence and health problems.
In 2020, the largest amount of cocaine ever recorded (214.6 tons) was seized in the EU, Norway and Turkey for the fourth consecutive year, according to the report by Europol and the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).
The EU faces a “growing threat from a more diverse and dynamic drug market, which is based on close collaboration between European and international criminal organisations”, says the report.
The new nature of this market has resulted in “record levels of drug availability, increased violence and corruption, and worsening health problems,” EMCDDA director Alexis Goosdeel said in a statement.
Disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic did not particularly affect markets, and cocaine trafficking by sea continued at pre-2019 levels.
The market for cocaine, the second most widely used drug in the EU after cannabis, was worth at least €10.5 billion ($11 billion) in 2020.
An estimated 14 million adults in the EU between the ages of 15 and 65 have tried the drug, which is inhaled as a white powder or smoked in a form widely known as crack.
Police seized most of the cocaine in Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain in 2020, the three countries where the drug is mostly processed after being produced in Colombia, Bolivia and Peru.
Methamphetamine, the world’s most widely used synthetic stimulant drug, plays a “relatively minor role in the European drug market”, the report said, although the latest data suggests a “growing threat”.
Between 2010 and 2020, the number of methamphetamine seizures in the EU more than doubled, while quantities increased by 477% to 2.2 tonnes in 2020.
Historically, production in Europe has taken place in small “kitchen” laboratories in the Czech Republic and neighboring countries, but it is now also being produced in industrial-scale laboratories in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Crystal methamphetamine is an “unwanted addition to the EU drug market”, according to the report, and a concern in terms of health consequences including “acute toxicity, psychotic episodes, polydrug use and death”.
In Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Spain “competition between drug suppliers has intensified, leading to an increase in violent confrontations”, murders and kidnappings.
Corruption is a key threat in the EU, the report added, noting that almost 60 percent of criminal networks use it as an enabler.

Leave a Comment