Europe’s role in international drug production and trade is changing, according to a new report published by Europol and the EU Drugs Agency (EMCDDA).
In an in-depth look into the cocaine and methamphetamine markets, several law enforcement agencies highlight the increase in production activities in Europe. Collaboration between criminal groups around the world is also creating new security threats and expanding the market.
New research highlights the trends throughout the supply chain, from production and trafficking to distribution and use. They describe a large and growing cocaine market and a smaller but increasing methamphetamine market in the EU. In addition, they identify an increased threat posed by innovation in production processes and chemical precursors, and a growing range of products that may put consumers at risk.
Europe is a major producer of synthetic drugs for both domestic and foreign markets. It is also becoming an increasingly active transshipment point for drugs coming from and destined for other regions of the world. For both cocaine and methamphetamine, there is proof that Latin American and European criminal groups are working together on production, trafficking and distribution.
The report shows that the European cocaine market is expanding, driven by unprecedented levels of trafficking and leading to high availability. Extreme levels of cocaine production in South America have resulted in record amounts seized in Europe.
Cocaine is the second most consumed illicit drug in the EU after cannabis, with an estimated retail market value of €10.5 billion in 2020.
Violence and corruption, long observed in traditional drug-producing countries, are increasing in the EU. The reports reveal that in some EU member states (Belgium, Spain, France and the Netherlands), competition between drug suppliers has intensified, leading to a rise in violent confrontations. The expansion of the EU cocaine market has brought an increase in homicides, kidnappings and intimidation, with violence spreading to people outside the drug market.
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