Europol: The cocaine market is increasingly violent

A diversification of actors in the cocaine supply has led to an increase in violence, according to the latest report on cocaine by Europol-UNODC.

A greater degree of violence and a more diverse and competitive market are the main features of the cocaine trade in Europe today. The new report on this drug describes the new dynamics of the cocaine market, and concludes that it represents a clear threat to European and global security.

The report was published as part of CRIMJUST’s work program, which strengthens cooperation on criminal justice along drug trafficking routes within the framework of the European Union’s Global Illicit Flows Programme.

Fragmenting of the criminal landscape in countries of origin has offered new opportunities for European criminal networks to receive a direct supply of cocaine, thus eliminating intermediaries. This new competition in the market has led to an increase in the supply of cocaine and consequently to greater violence, a trend detected in Europol’s 2021 Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment. For example, criminal networks in the Western Balkans have established direct contact with producers and have secured a prominent place in the wholesale supply of cocaine.

The report highlights the importance of intervention at the source, as this market is heavily driven by the supply chain. Strengthening cooperation and further increasing the exchange of information between police forces would improve the effectiveness of the investigations and shipment detection.

The report highlights the importance of money laundering investigations in order to track illegal profits and to confiscate illicit goods related to crime activities. These financial investigations are the main core of the fight against cocaine trafficking, ensuring that criminal activities do not pay off.

Julia Viedma, head of Department of the Operational and Analysis Centre at Europol, considers cocaine trafficking to be one of the key security concerns that the EU faces right now. Nearly 40% of the criminal groups active in Europe are involved in drug trafficking, and the cocaine trade generates several million euros in criminal profits. A better understanding of the challenges that the police faces will help fighting more effectively against the violent threat posed by cocaine trafficking networks to citizens. Chloé Carpentier, chief of the Drug Research Section at UNODC, highlighted that the current dynamic of diversification and proliferation of cocaine supply channels, criminal actors and modalities is likely to increase, if left uncontrolled.


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