European drug landscape is changing

by Team Inc.

Europol drugs meeting

A recent joint analysis by Europol and the EMCDDA has revealed trends in Europe's illicit drug markets. Europe's role in international drug production and trafficking is changing, with increased activity in the cocaine and methamphetamine markets.

Collaboration between criminal groups worldwide brings new security threats and market expansion. An increase in drug production and trafficking was noted, with Latin American and European criminal groups worked together.

Cocaine: The European cocaine market is expanding and reaching record levels of availability, with evidence of a changing role in the international cocaine trade. The estimated retail market value in the EU in 2020 was at least €10,5 billion. High-risk criminal networks dominate human trafficking and generate billions in profits. Since 2017, cocaine seizures have increased in Europe.

Expansion of drug markets

In 2021, a record 303 tonnes of cocaine were seized by EU member states. Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain remain the countries reporting the highest numbers of seizures, reflecting the importance of these countries as entry points for cocaine trafficking into Europe. The corruption and intimidation of dock workers facilitates smuggling, which extends to other sectors of European society. Cocaine production is becoming more efficient worldwide, including in Europe, raising concerns about the availability of smokable cocaine products.

Collaboration is observed between Latin American and European criminal networks in cocaine production. Mexican networks are increasingly supplying cocaine to the EU, and the region is used as a transit point for shipments to non-EU countries. Europol and the DEA have jointly released a report showing that Mexican criminals are involved in the EU drug market.

The cannabis market, estimated at €11,4 billion annually, is the largest drug market in Europe. Attacks in 2021 reached a decade high, with a shift to more powerful and diverse products. The potency of cannabis has increased significantly, posing health risks, and the impact on the environment has been described as significant. The collaboration between criminal networks contributes to security risks, involves different modes of transportation and leads to violent clashes. The cannabis trade also fuels corruption and undermines governance. Policy changes in some EU countries and globally lead to the need for monitoring and evaluation to understand their impact on public health.

Growth in amphetamine trafficking

The European amphetamine market has stabilized at 1,1 billion euros per year. Europe, alongside the Middle East, is a major global producer and consumer of amphetamine. Most amphetamine in the EU is produced domestically, mainly in the Netherlands and Belgium, with criminals adapting and using innovative production methods.

Criminal networks in the amphetamine trade are business-oriented, cooperative and flexible, abusing legal structures and resorting to violence and corruption. To address these threats, key actions are proposed at EU and Member State level, including: improving strategic intelligence, reducing supply, increasing security, promoting international cooperation, investing in capacity building and strengthening policy and security responses.

Source: (EN)

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