Record numbers of pure cocaine seized in Europe - EU report

2019-06-06 11:47
A Spanish customs officer checks a package of cocaine in the port of Vigo after seizing the vessel "Gure Leire" carrying 2 500kg of cocaine. (Miguel Riopa, AFP)

A Spanish customs officer checks a package of cocaine in the port of Vigo after seizing the vessel "Gure Leire" carrying 2 500kg of cocaine. (Miguel Riopa, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

European authorities are seizing record numbers of increasing pure cocaine, the EU's drugs agency said in a report published on Thursday, pointing also to a growing use of synthetic drugs and dealing via smartphones.

The rise in trafficking on social media, darknet markets and cocaine "call centres", where dealers deliver quickly to users who order online, are creating a "potential 'Uberisation'" of the drugs trade, the study said.

"The challenges we face in the drugs area continue to grow," said Alexis Goosdeel, head of the Lisbon-based European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

Not only are there signs that established plant-based drugs like cocaine are increasing available, but, he said, "synthetic drugs and drug production within Europe are growing in importance".

Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, said the EU and its partners "need to look at the role of digitalisation in the drug market", adding: "We have no time to spare."

Here are the report's key findings:

Record cocaine seizures

EU member states seized 140 tonnes of cocaine in 2017, the highest level ever recorded, with an average street price of 55 to 82 euros ($62-92) per gram in the EU.

Belgium accounted for the highest proportion of cocaine seizures (45 tons), followed by Spain (41 tons). An increase in trafficking via shipping containers is a "major challenge", it said.

Online dealing on "social media, darknet marketplaces and encryption techniques" is also a growing problem, it said.

Increasingly pure drugs

The purity of cocaine at street level reached its highest level in a decade in 2017, although its retail price has remained stable.

The MDMA content of the party drug ecstasy also reached a 10-year high the same year. Although an international crackdown on chemicals used to produce that synthetic drug disrupted the market in the late 2000s, producers have increasingly been using non-controlled chemicals to manufacture it.

Cannabis most seized drug

Cannabis accounted for nearly three-quarters of illicit drugs seizures in the EU in 2017. Herbal cannabis (marijuana) consumed in Europe is mainly cultivated in Europe, but cannabis resin (hashish) tends to be imported from Morocco, and increasingly from conflict-torn Libya.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of cannabis resin seized in the EU in 2017 was in Spain whose proximity to north Africa makes it a hub for sending drugs to Europe.

Turkey a hotspot

EU-candidate country Turkey is a significant transit country for drugs trafficking between Europe and the Middle East, despite its strict drugs laws.

It seized more MDMA tablets (8.6 million) and more amphetamine (6.6 tons) than all the EU member states combined in 2017.

There were also more heroin seizures (129 000) in Turkey than all EU countries combined.

Since 2014, Turkey has participated in the EMCDDA's work and is a full member of the management board though without the right to vote.

Boom in synthetic drugs

Synthetic drugs - which mimic the effects of natural drugs such as heroin - have become more common, the report said.

Eleven new synthetic opioids were detected in Europe in 2018, usually in the form of powders, tablets and liquids, it said.

With only very small volumes needed to produce many thousands of street doses, these substances are easy to conceal and transport, representing a challenge for law enforcement and customs.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    eu  |  europe
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.