Europol documents how illegal drugs finance organised crime in the EU

Europol has just published how illegal drugs sustain organised crime, and how these serve to finance organised crime in the EU.

It is estimated that the drug business in the EU generates at least 24 thousand million Euros in income every year, which makes it the EU´s biggest criminal market.

  • Roughly 35% of organised criminal groups in the UE participate in the production, trafficking and distribution of illegal drugs. 75% of these groups use more than one type of narcotic drug.
  • The synthetic drug and the new psycho active substances (NPS) markets continue to be the most dynamic drug markets in the EU; over the last 5 years 620 new substances have been detected.
  • There has been a significant increase in the availability of narcotics in the European illegal drug market. Since 2012, a total of 24 new types of drugs have been identified.
  • The drugs are sold widely online via several platforms. The sale of medication via markets on the dark web is an important threat and continues to spread.
  • Little success in the fight against the laundering of capital: Money laundering activities in the EU are significant, reflecting the profits generated by the drug business. Moreover, the global framework against money laundering has displayed a deficient success rate. A mere l.1% of illegal resources are confiscated by the competent authorities at EU level.

On 6 and 7th December 2017, the head drug units of all the EU member states, representatives of the Commission of the EU and EU agencies, such as Eurojust and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OEDT), and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), other operative members and 10 third countries with operational agreements with Europol met at Europol to identify and discuss the introduction of new ways of addressing the illegal drug business, which is one the biggest penal threats to the EU. This conference complements the assessment of the implementation of the Drugs Strategy of the EU 2013-2020 and the EU drugs action plan 2013-2016 from the European Commission.

According to this assessment, it is demonstrated that there has been progress in all EU action plans aimed at reducing the availability of drugs, but over recent years, no significant reduction in the supply of drugs has been recorded. Basing itself on the results of the assessment, the new drugs action plan 2017-2020 provides a consolidated response to the newly emerging health and security challenges regarding the use and trafficking of illegal drugs.

Europol is the EU agency that helps member states to fight against serious international crime and terrorism. Established as an EU agency in 2010, Europol, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, is at the centre of the European architecture of security and offers a unique range of services. Europol is a support centre for operations in the field of security, a source of information about criminal activities and an experienced centre for the application of the law. Europol works closely with the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OEDT) to fight against illegal drugs.


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