Europe’s cocaine purity improves – POLITICO | Popgen Tech


Press play to listen to this article

Spoken by artificial intelligence.

Cocaine purity in Europe is rising, as the continent becomes a hub for manufacturing and shipping the drug, and officials are scrambling to respond.

The Belgian customs service will hold a press conference on January 10 to communicate a new approach and details on cooperation with the Dutch customs administration to fight narco-traffickers, a spokesperson told POLITICO.

This comes after a recent analysis showed that the “purity of cocaine has been on an upward trend over the past decade, reaching a level 40 percent higher in 2020 than the index year of 2010,” according to the 2022 European Drug Report published by the European Union’s drugs agency EMCDDA earlier this year.

In the EU, the report says that nearly 2.2 million 15- to 34-year-olds (2.2 percent of this age group) used cocaine in the year before the study, adding that the use and availability of cocaine “remains high against historic standards,” dealing a blow to the EU’s five-year strategy to fight drug trafficking and use.

Some declines were observed in indicators of cocaine use in Europe in 2020, but as the dust settled after the coronavirus peak, preliminary data from 2021 suggests a return to pre-pandemic levels of use.

Alexis Goosdeel, EMCDDA director, said the EU’s drug market, including cocaine, had become “more diverse and dynamic”, adding that “this has led to record levels of drug availability, increasing violence and corruption, and greater health problems.”

Law enforcement is also scrambling to get into gear to tackle Mexican cartels’ presence in the EU’s drug black market, a problem not to be sniffed at.

Concerns were raised in a recent joint report by Europol and the US Drug Enforcement Administration that “Collaboration between Mexican criminal actors and EU-based criminal networks may continue to develop.”

In the report, the agencies say that: “In recent years, seizures of methamphetamine and cocaine linked to Mexican criminal actors have emerged as a prominent feature of the EU drug landscape.” The cartels work to “corrupt” public and private sector officials to smooth the passage of cocaine into the bloc.

Mexican drug cartels are notorious for using brutal violence to dominate territory and secure supply chains and “an increased presence of Mexican cartels in the EU could result in more violence,” the report warns.

The port of Antwerp in Belgium is one of Europe’s most important entry points for cocaine François Walschaerts/AFP via Getty Images

Although there have been major cocaine busts in Europe recently, including a massive seizure of 30 tonnes worth last month that brought down a “super-cartel”, law enforcement has yet to rub criminals’ noses in it.

One of the most important ports for the illegal trade is Antwerp in Belgium, where authorities are struggling under an avalanche of white powder.

At the moment, a top official said, there is not enough capacity to incinerate all the seized cocaine.


Source link