The number of drug users in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to increase by nearly 150%

355.- baixaThe new research from ENACT [1] is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the illicit African drug trade, consumption patterns and African drug policy.

According to ENACT’s studies on transnational organised crime, ineffective drug policy, fuelled by corruption and organised crime, are exacerbating an expanding drug crisis in Africa.

African consumption of illegal drugs, including non-medical use of prescription opioids, threatens national development and is projected to become a public health emergency.

Sub-Saharan Africa will see the world’s biggest surge in illicit drug users in the next 30 years, with its share of global drug consumption projected to double.

Prisons are overcrowded, and generations of young people are disenfranchised by criminal convictions for low-level drug crimes. Continental drug markets continue to expand even as illicit crops are destroyed, drug labs dismantled, and drug shipments seized.

Drugs have become a revenue source for terrorist organisations and crime syndicates, but African law enforcement bodies lack the institutional, technological and financial capacities to have a significant impact on drug trafficking markets.

Researchers estimate that the number of drug users in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by nearly 150% in the next three decades. They forecast that by 2050 there will be an additional 14 million Africans using illegal drugs, with a total of 23 million users in sub-Saharan Africa.

West Africa’s role has expanded as a global trafficking hub for illegal drugs, particularly cocaine, and an illegal economy has developed around the production and distribution of methamphetamines.

Africa’s dangerous drugs phenomenon contributes to the growing global production of cocaine and heroin, which, according to the 2018 World Drug Report, are at the highest levels ever recorded. Other stimulants of the surging trade and consumption of drugs include urbanisation, development of infrastructure and transport routes, a fast-growing youth population, and challenging social and economic circumstances for millions of people.

The researchers made a number of recommendations to African Union policymakers. Effective pan-African responses to the crisis must include efforts to reduce production and trafficking of drugs, coupled with demand reduction and expanded healthcare for the treatment and care of drug users.

All regions should bolster their cross-border law enforcement responses to curb the supply and production of illicit drugs, targeting traffickers rather than users. The diversion of pharmaceutical opioids from legal channels also needs to be curbed.

[1] ENACT is funded by the European Union. The project builds knowledge and skills to enhance Africa’s response to transnational organised crime. It analyses how organised crime affects stability, governance, the rule of law and development in Africa, and works to mitigate its impact. ENACT is implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.


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Fifty-nine per cent of worldwide arms production takes place in the USA

ARMES PRODUCCIOSales of arms by the sector’s largest 100 companies (excluding those in China) rose to US$420 billion in 2018, representing an increase of 4.6% compared with the previous year. This is according to new data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The SIPRI data shows that arms sales by the Top 100 companies have increased by 47% since 2002. It should be noted that the database excludes Chinese companies due to a lack of data making it difficult to arrive at a reliable estimation.

For the first time since 2002, the top five armament companies have their headquarters in the USA. And the total arms sales by US companies rose to US$246 billion, equivalent to 59% of all arms sales by the Top 100 in the ranking. This figure represents an increase of 7.2% compared with 2017.

For their part, Russian arms sales remain stable. The combined sales of the ten leading Russian companies to appear in the 2018 ranking were US$36.2 billion. A slight decrease of 0.4% compared with 2017.

SIPRI confirmed an increase in arms sales for French companies but a decrease for British and German companies. The combined arms sales of the 27 European companies in the Top 100 increased marginally in 2018, to US$102 billion. Arms sales by companies based in the UK fell by 4.8%, to US$35.1 billion, but remained amongst the highest in Europe.

The combined arms sales of the French companies in the Top 100 were the second-highest in Europe, at US$23.2 billion. Total combined sales for the four German arms-producing companies in the ranking fell by 3.8%.

Eighty of the Top 100 arms producers in 2018 were based in the USA, Europe and Russia. Of the remaining 20, 6 were based in Japan; 3 in Israel, India and South Korea; 2 in Turkey, and 1 in Australia, Canada and Singapore.

The combined sales of the six Japanese companies remained relatively stable in 2018. At US$9.9 billion, they accounted for 2.4% of the total for the Top 100 companies.

The SIPRI Arms Industry Database was created in 1989. At that time, it didn’t include data for Eastern European countries, including the Soviet Union. The current version contains data from 2002 onwards, including that of Russian companies. Chinese companies are not included because of a lack of available data on which to make a reasonable or consistent estimate of arms sales dating back to 2002.

It should be clarified that arms sales’ are defined as sales of military goods and services to military customers domestically and abroad.


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Racial and ethnic disparities in the American justice system decline


The study, headed by William J. Sabol, ex-director of the United States’ Bureau of Justice Statistics, and criminologist from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University stops short of analysing the motives for the decline in racial disparities.

The Council on Criminal Justice commissioned the study which found that between the years 2000 and 2016, the most recent year for which combined federal and state data was available, ethnic and racial disparities across the prison and probation population of the United States declined.

Although African Americans still account for the largest ethnic group in the United States justice system, the black-white disparity has significantly decreased in the last two decades.

The decline is evident across all major crime categories, with the most significant decrease observed in drug offences, where the imprisonment rate for African Americans has reduced from 15 times the rate of whites to just under five times the rate of whites in the last decade and a half.

Hispanic-white disparities followed a similar trend, with the most significant reduction occurring among the conditional-release population, which fell from 3.3 times the rate of whites in 2000 to 1.4 times the rate in 2014.

The pattern was especially evident in the number of African Americans arrested for drug crimes, which fell from a peak of 2,177 per 100,000 inhabitants in the year 2000 to 1,274 per 100,000 in 2016, a decrease of some 41%. It’s important to note that some states began making fewer arrests for marijuana possession in response to the growing pro-legalisation movement.

Racial disparity continues to be a pressing problem for the system, but the latest figures are a sign of significant progress in addressing the issue. In the last 40 years, black imprisonment rates have ranged from about six to eight times those of the white population.

Decreasing racial disparity was particularly notable among those held in prison. The number of incarcerated black adults fell by 10% between 2000 and 2016, dropping from 589,499 to 527,675. During this period, black-white disparity in prisons fell by 42%.

During the same period, the number of whites in state prisons increased by 18.6%, rising from 452,232 to 536,183.

The authors of the study found a similar decline, although to a lesser extent, in disparities among the federal penitentiary population. The black-white disparity fell from 8.4 to 1, to seven-to-one between 2001 and 2017. In the same period, the rate for the Hispanic population fell from 7.3 inmates for every white inmate, to 4.6 inmates for every white inmate.

The decline in the racial disparity between black and white women was even more pronounced than for the men. In the year 2000, there were six African American women for every white woman in the North American justice system. By 2016, the figure had reduced to just two African American women for every white woman behind bars.

In the same period, the number of black women in state prisons fell by half, while the number of white women increased from 25,000 to 60,000.

According to the study, the considerable decline in the black-white disparity among women results from a significant drop in the number of black women in prison for drug crimes, in conjunction with an increase in the number of white women imprisoned for drug-related and violent crimes.


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Europeans spend an estimated €30 billions on the retail drug market each year

DROGUES EUROPOLThe expenditure makes the drug market a major source of income for organised crime gangs in the European Union. This figure appears in Europol’s 2019 EU Drug Markets Report, published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction (EMCDDA) and Europol. Around two-fifths of this total, 39%, is spent on cannabis, 31% on cocaine, 25% on heroin and 5% on amphetamines and MDMA.

The report studies trends in the supply chain from production and trafficking to distribution and sales. It describes how the drug market has wide-ranging repercussions for both health and security and how a holistic approach is vital for effective drug control policies.

The latest statistics show how the overall availability of drugs in Europe continues to be extremely high and that consumers have access to a wide variety of highly pure, incredibly potent drugs at lower or unchanged prices. One of the significant cross-cutting themes of the report is the environmental impact of drug production, including deforestation and the dumping of chemical waste, which are ecologically harmful and incur security risks and elevated clean-up costs.

The report highlights the growing importance of Europe, both as a target market and as a drug-producing region, and explains how the violence and corruption which has long existed in traditional drug-producing countries, is now increasingly evident in the EU. The document analyses the many consequences of the illicit drugs market, one of which is its negative impact on society, which can be seen in gang violence, drug-related homicides and the strain it places on public institutions.

It also explores the drug industry’s links to a wide range of other types of criminal activity, such as human trafficking and terrorism, as well as the negative repercussions for the legal economy, including how the laundering of drug profits causes problems for legitimate businesses.

The report expresses concern about the increased diversification of maritime drug-trafficking methods and the misuse of general aviation, including private planes and drones, for criminal purposes. The use of post and parcel services for drug trafficking is also rapidly expanding, following the increasing trend for shopping online in Europe, and the rise in the number of parcel deliveries as a result.

The surface web and the darknet, as well as social networks, messenger services and mobile apps, are all used as platforms to sell drugs online. And while the darknet market continues to be resilient, increasing numbers of online shops and vendors catering to specific nationalities or language groups have also appeared. Illegal firearms, encrypted smartphones and fraudulent documents are some of the key tools increasingly used in drug trafficking.

The report contains an in-depth analysis of each of the most popularly used drugs in Europe:

  • Cannabis: the largest drug market in Europe, with some 25 million Europeans (15-64 years), having used the drug in the past year. The report illustrates that, while cannabis herb and resin still dominate, cannabis products in Europe are increasingly diverse.
  • Heroin and other opioids: serious health risks and heroin derivative problems. The use of opioids still accounts for the largest share of drug-related harms, including deaths, associated with drug use in the EU.
  • Cocaine: record production levels and expanding markets. The cocaine market is the second-largest illicit drug market in the EU, with an estimated minimum retail value of €9.1 billion.
  • Amphetamine, methamphetamine and MDMA – large-scale production in Europe for internal consumption and exportation: they account for around 5% of the total drug market in the EU, with an estimated retail value of at least €1 billion for amphetamine and methamphetamine, and €0.5 billion for MDMA.
  • New psychoactive substances: slow-down in the number of new detections but substances are potent and present a severe health threat. NPAs are diverse substances which are not subject to international drug controls.

With an ever more complex, adaptable and dynamic drug market, the report underlines the need for the EU’s policies and responses to be equally agile, adaptive and cohesive.


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Argentina’s dark figure of unreported crimes

Policia_Metropolitana_-_Buenos_Aires_-_ArgentinaAll countries invariably endeavour to understand trends and patterns in criminal activity. Citizens’ crime reports are a country’s primary source of information on violence and crimes, and therefore form the basis for public safety policy-making. In Argentina, however, there is considerable concern about the reliability of those figures.

The concern is because only a small number of crimes are reported and registered by the authorities. And it’s well-known that, for various reasons, many crimes are not included in the national crime statistics.

The term used to describe offences that are committed but, for many different reasons, never recorded by the authorities is the dark figure of crimes. And it’s the existence of this dark figure which prevents the authorities from obtaining an accurate overall picture of criminal activity. The problem is particularly severe in less developed countries, which have the lowest reporting rates.

And while there is an individual dark figure for each type of crime and context, it’s believed that, on average, almost 70% of crimes go unreported. This number could be as high as 90% for certain types of more widespread crimes, such as minor property infringements, gender abuse, domestic abuse, and offences relating to corruption and drug trafficking.

In Argentina, 62.6% of offences go unreported. This figure has profound implications for policy-making designed to prevent and control the crime rate. It’s because of this that victimisation surveys play such a crucial role.

When the number of unreported crimes for each type of criminal activity is analysed, a clear correlation between the type of crime and the dark figure associated with it can be identified. While the dark figure for vehicle theft is lower than 20%, other crimes have a dark figure of more than 50%.

The motivation to report a crime is related to the reporter’s expectation that the perpetrator will be punished, damage repaired, or stolen possessions recovered.

The main reasons behind people choosing not to report a crime are: a lack of confidence in the authorities’ ability to solve the problem (34.6%); because they would rather try to solve the problem themselves (24.6%); a downplaying of the significance of the offence (20.5%); a lack of evidence (14.7%); and the fear of reprisals or shame (5.5%). 6.4% of people consulted said they chose not to report the crime because it was too complicated, or they were unsure how to do it.

Taking these reasons into account, we can understand why victims of the theft of an expensive item, such as a vehicle, are more predisposed towards taking official action to restore or retrieve it. Moreover, if the item is insured, a police report is a formal requirement for recuperating the value of the stolen good.

Victims of crimes considered to be less serious or with less probability of damage compensation, such as personal theft, or crimes such as threats, bribery, sexual offences, etc., that for various motives tend not to be reported to the authorities, are less likely to report them.

Less than half (46.6%) of people who report a crime to the authorities are satisfied or very satisfied with how the relevant authority handled that report.


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Colombia’s first survey on citizen coexistence and security

ColombiaThe Survey on Citizen Coexistence and Security in Colombia provides information on people aged 15 years or over, who have been personally affected by criminal activities such as theft, fights, or extortion. The survey also explores people’s perceptions of their safety.

For the first time, Colombia has conducted a nationwide victimisation survey that also covers victimisation in rural areas during the 2018 reference period.

The National Administrative Department for Statistics, DANE, published the results of the Survey on Citizen Coexistence and Security (ECSC), which compiles information from a representative sample of 128,998 people aged 15 or over, from 39,712 households

According to the results of the Survey on Citizen Coexistence and Security, in 2018, 15.6% of Colombians aged 15 or over were victims of at least one crime.

In the year 2018, victimisation prevalence in Colombia was higher for men aged 15 or over (16.9%) than for women aged 15 years or over (14.3%).

Of particular significance is the fact that in Colombia, during 2018, 71.3% of people aged 15 or over who were victims of a crime did not report it to the relevant authorities.

Of the 3% of Colombian households to report a robbery at their residence in 2018, 68.4% of them lived in a house, while 29.8% lived in a flat.

It should also be noted that 7.3% of people aged 15 or over were victims of theft, and 41.8% of those were between 15 and 29 years old. In relation to gender, 7.6% of the total number of men aged 15 or over said they had been a victim of theft in 2018; the corresponding figure for women was 7%.

34.5% of burglaries occurred between 12 midday and 6 p.m., and the most stolen personal item was the mobile phone at 75.9%.

22.9% of Colombians aged 15 or over said they owned at least one vehicle –car, motorcycle, bicycle, or agricultural vehicle– and of these, 8.7% said that either the entire vehicle, a part of it, or an accessory was stolen. 62.5% of victims said that a part or an accessory was stolen, and 37.5% declared that the entire vehicle was taken. In 38.4% of cases, the theft of the vehicle occurred between 12 midday and 6 p.m.

1.5% of people aged 15 years or over reported that they had been involved in a fight involving physical violence, and of these, 54.4% were young people between 15 and 29 years of age. By gender, 2% of all the men surveyed had been involved in a fight, while the corresponding statistic was 1.1% for women.

2.2% of people aged 15 and over said they had been the victim of extortion or attempted extortion in Colombia during 2018. In the case of 92.2% of those victims, the extortionist contacted the victim by telephone, and in 43.4% of those cases, the victim was threatened with their own safety.

For the whole of Colombia, the question about whether people aged 15 or over feel safe in different public spaces revealed that 48% of people felt most unsafe on the streets, followed by 42.9% of people who felt most unsafe on public transport.

With regard to the different cities and the perception of safety in those cities (whether people generally felt safe in their city), Bogotá and Cartagena were the cities whose residents felt most unsafe, with their percentages at 84% and 73.9% of respectively.


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Cybercrime is becoming bolder

Europol’s 2019 cybercrime report provides insights into emerging threats and key developments, highlighting the fact that cybercrime is continuing to mature and becoming increasingly bold, shifting its focus to larger, more profitable targets as well as new technologies. Data is a key element of cybercrime, both from a crime and research perspective.

Cross-cutting cybercrime phenomena
1. Data is at the centre of the crime scenes. Cybercriminals target data for their crimes, so data security and consumer awareness are paramount for organisations.

  1. Cybercrime is maturing and becoming increasingly bold, shifting its focus to larger, more lucrative targets.

Main trends outlined by the 2019 report on cybercrime
1. Ransomware remains the top cybercrime threat in 2019.

  1. DDoS attacks: the use of ransomware to deny an organisation access to its data is a significant threat.
  2. Data overload in fighting child sexual exploitation material: the amount of online material detected by the police and the private sector continues to increase. This increase puts considerable strain on the resources of investigators. One of the most worrying developments is the online sexual exploitation of minors. Deepfake technology is a technique that places images or video over another video.
  3. Self-generated explicit material is more and more common, driven by an increasing number of minors with access to high-quality smartphones.
  4. Smart cities: the most visible ransomware attacks in 2019 were those against local governments, specifically, in the United States.
  5. The police are increasingly responding to attacks on critical infrastructure.
  6. The Darkweb is becoming more fragmented. Some organised crime groups are also fragmenting their business through a range of online services and marketplaces, therefore presenting new challenges for investigators.
  7. Blockchain markets: as well as evading the police, criminal developers are also motivated by a need to increase the loyalty of their customer base, both in terms of anonymity and reducing the risk of scams.
  8. Business email compromise: data is once again the focus of discussions about business email compromise, which has been identified as a priority issue for both Member States and private industry. While this type of crime is not new, it is evolving rapidly. The scam exploits the way corporations do business, taking advantage of segregated company structures and internal gaps in payment verification processes.
  9. EU emergency response protocol: the coordinated response to large-scale cyber-attacks remains a key challenge to effective international cooperation in the cybersecurity ecosystem.


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Fentanyl, much more deadly than heroin

In the United States, the number of deaths from using synthetic opioids has risen from 3,000 in 2013, to more than 30,000 in 2018. In fact, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl are now responsible for twice as many deaths as heroin.

In the USA, a book [1] offering a systematic assessment of the past, present, and possible future of synthetic opioids in the United States, has been released. The book is rooted in the analysis of secondary data, literature reviews, international case studies, and interviews with key informants. The goal is to provide decision-makers, researchers, the media, and members of the public with insights intended to improve their understanding of the synthetic-opioid problem and how to respond to it.

Main conclusions

Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids dominate some regional drug markets in Canada and the eastern United States.
The spread of Fentanyl can be explained more by supply-side factors than by an increase in demand. These issues include the online dissemination of new and more efficient synthesis methods, anonymous e-commerce operators, etc.

In some markets, fentanyl is replacing – not just altering or supplementing – heroin.
The spread of synthetic opioids is a result of supplier decisions rather than user demand.
Despite substantial differences in their drug policies and public health services, the problem in some parts of Canada is as acute as in the east of the United States.
Fentanyl’s spread is episodically quick and persistent.
The synthetic-opioid problem will likely get worse.
The synthetic-opioid problem in the USA has yet to reach a national scale. Some western regions of Mississippi have been less affected until now.


It’s imperative that efforts be made to prevent synthetic opioids from becoming entrenched in parts of the country that have been only moderately affected.
Policymakers must innovate in places where synthetic opioids are produced. New approaches to dealing with the crisis must be given serious consideration (for example, disrupting online transactions, supervised consumption locations, new evidence-based treatments such as heroin-based treatment, analysis of drug contents). The nature and scale of the challenge presented by synthetic opioids, which, in their current forms and distribution methods represent a departure from previous crisis, make these actions necessary. In fact, the solution to this crisis may lie in approaches and technologies that do not exist today.
Governments have a unique responsibility to fund data-collection and the monitoring of drug sales and usage.  The HIV / AIDS crisis prompted substantial investment in new data and monitoring systems, such as the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System. The number of opioid-related deaths is roughly similar to that at the peak of the HIV / AIDS epidemic, but there has been no comparable investment in improving existing drug control systems.

[1] The future of Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids by Bryce Pardo, Jirka Taylor, Jonathan P. Caulkins, Beau Kilmer, Peter Reuter, Bradley D. Stein.


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One in four Germans have been victims of internet crime

The German Federal Office for Information Security ( has published the results of an online survey completed in April 2019 by 2000 people aged between16 and 69 years old[1]. 24% of respondents claimed to have been the victim of internet crime. 29% of respondents felt that the risk of falling victim to a digital crime was “high” or “very high”.

36% claimed to have been victims of fraud while shopping online, 28% of phishing, 26% of viruses or Trojans, 18% of identity theft, 13% of extortion software, and 13% of cyber-mobbing. Some respondents claimed they had been the victim of several types of crime.

61% of respondents stated that they were using antivirus programmes, 58% secure passwords, 52% firewalls, 36% immediately installed software updates, 32% regularly changed their passwords, and 19% used encrypted email services (respondents were able to select multiple answers). As a consequence of this reality, 73% searched for information on internet security. 24% visited the Federal Office for Information Security’s website, and 47% visited police websites. Only 34% said they hadn’t heard about those websites.

The age-group most likely to report a crime to the police is 60-69 years (41%) and 50-59 years (40%), with people from 16 to 29 years and 30 to 39 years the least likely to do so (23%). The group that keeps itself most informed about the internet is 50 to 59-year-olds (38% regularly and 40% when a problem arises) and 60 to 69-year-olds (37% and 38%). The subject most people searched for information on was online banking (62%). Although the vast majority had heard about preventative measures, only a minority takes them into account and tracks them regularly (9%).

Among those that have already fallen victim to digital crime, the most frequently used protective measures are updated firewalls (50%), more secure passwords (44%), and updated antivirus programmes (40%).



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Extortion, violence and organised crime in Latin America

According to a recent study[1], after homicide, extortion is the second most prolific crime committed against the rule of law in Latin American and Caribbean countries. As well as being the primary source of income for maras, youth gangs, and organised crime groups, the growing number of violent deaths arising from extortion means it has now become the most significant threat to personal safety.

An example: in El Salvador, 24% of the population claims to have been the victim of extortion at some point in their lives, and in Guatemala official allegations of extortion increased by 55% between 2013 and 2018.

In recent years, some countries have taken steps to tackle extortion, attempting to resolve the problem with tougher punishments, specialist prevention programmes, the use of specialist police forces and dedicated help-lines for victims. Another measure to have gained popularity is the blocking of mobile phone signals in prisons. This is because in some countries up to 70% of extortions are organised from behind prison walls.

Given that extortion has such a devastating effect on both the peaceful coexistence of a population and its economy, the study makes a series of recommendations for their prevention and control:

  • Push for police modernisation and incentivise the social rehabilitation of inmates. Streamline police and judiciary systems to ensure improved safety for citizens.
  • Encourage the development of joint public and private partnerships such as the one that exists between the sugar production industry and the El Salvador National Police. By doing this the police have been able to obtain transport and communications equipment.
  • Dedicate more resources to finding technical ways to control extortion. For example, Mexico has a mobile application that identifies calls placed from prisons.
  • Extend regional exchanges on good practice for extortion control to speed the sharing of programmes and solutions.
  • Consolidate control mechanisms for extortion cases involving civil servants. Especially in cases where civil servants demand money from citizens to carry out specific administrative proceedings.
  • Generate attractive professional alternatives for members of youth gangs. For example, community centres that organise activities aimed at preventing the recruitment of young people in high-risk neighbourhoods.
  • Provide incentives for small and medium businesses not to deal in cash. In Guatemala it has been found that most proceeds obtained from extortion are invested in businesses, buses, taxis, and bars.
  • Encourage the victims of extortion to undertake criminal procedures by providing them with all the necessary protection guarantees in order to increase the number of official complaints and convictions.

[1] A Criminal Culture: Extortion in Central America.


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