Cocaine Smuggling to Europe At All-Time High
“Current data on cocaine show that both the number of seizures and the volumes seized are at an all-time high. Cocaine enters Europe through numerous routes and means, but the growth in large-volume trafficking, through major ports, using containers, stands out. Increased availability of the drug is also suggested by the highest estimates of cocaine purity at retail level in a decade.” – EMCDD 2019
In its annual report, released Thursday June 13, the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDD) revealed that cocaine trafficking across European countries has increased since 2017, with 104 thousand cases of cocaine confiscations reported in 2017, estimated at 144 tons of cocaine, compared with 98 cases in 2016, estimated at 79 tons confiscated.
The EMCDD’s department for drug fighting said that, compared with the past 10 years, the quantities of confiscated cocaine this year proved to be the most pure.
EMCDD also reported on the growing health costs of cocaine.
“Nonetheless, there are signs that increased cocaine availability is resulting in growing health costs. Since 2014, the number of new clients entering treatment for cocaine problems, although still relatively low, has increased by over 35 %, with around two-thirds of countries noting an increase. In some countries, cocaine has been associated with recent increases in drug-related deaths. The drug is often detected alongside opioids in overdose deaths in those parts of Europe where it is the predominant stimulant. In addition, the role played by cocaine in deaths linked to cardiovascular disease may go unreported. Where data are available, they show an overall increase in cocaine-related emergency presentations, with cocaine being the most commonly reported illicit substance in the 18-country Euro-DEN study,” the report stated.
Drug Seizures in Europe
In Belgium alone, the center’s report stated that local authorities seized 45 tons, while Spain confiscated about 42 tons. Countries such as Britain, France and Italy had large quantities of cocaine seized also. This year, the Netherlands’ authorities, for instance, confiscated a total of 14.6 tons of cocaine, the European report highlighted.
The EMDCC’s report also mentioned that in 2017 the coca-made cocaine was used widely among drug takers. The report cited Bolivia, Columbia and Peru as sources of the drug, with 300,000 Europeans using the cocaine.
A statement by Portuguese law enforcement said that 50 material-made packs of cocaine, estimated at one ton and worth $49 million were found in a well-sealed off room, on-board a Brazilian fishing ship. The Portuguese authorities and overseas territorial waters’ guards arrested seven suspects.
Smugglers bring the cocaine, along with other types of drugs, to the European Union countries from South and Central America with sea cargo, as well as via some overseas tourist journeys and aerial cargo shipments. Often, smugglers use materials such as cloth and plastic to hide the drugs and treat these materials to remove the cocaine when they arrive in Europe.
The majority of cocaine users are people between the ages of 15 and 34.