Is there a drug addiction epidemic in Europe?
According to an EU report, cocaine and meth are at "record availability."
According to an EU report released on Friday, the market for cocaine and methamphetamine is expanding in Europe, driven by record levels of trafficking and causing violence and health problems.
According to Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the EU, Norway, and Turkey seized the most cocaine ever in 2020 (214.6 tonnes), for the fourth year in a row.
The report described that the EU faces a "growing threat from a more diverse and dynamic drug market, which relies on close collaboration between European and international criminal organizations."
Just today, more than 500kg of cocaine were intercepted by Swiss authorities from a shipment of coffee beans transported to a Nespresso factory.
Workers at the Romont facility in the western Swiss canton of Fribourg notified authorities about a peculiar white substance found in sacks of coffee beans, according to police.
Alexis Goosdeel, the EMCDDA director, stated that the nature of the novelty market has caused "record levels of drug availability, increased violence and corruption, and worsening health problems."
Market disruptions induced by the Covid-19 epidemic had little impact, and cocaine trafficking by sea remained at pre-2019 levels.
Cocaine, the EU's second most consumed narcotic after cannabis, has a market value of at least $11 billion in 2020.
An estimated 14 million individuals in the EU between the ages of 15 and 65 have used the substance, which is snorted as a white powder or smoked in a form often known as crack cocaine.
In 2020, police confiscated the majority of cocaine in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain, the three countries where the drug is mostly changed after being manufactured in Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru.
According to the report, Methamphetamine, the most common synthetic stimulant drug, seizures in the EU more than quadrupled between 2010 and 2020, while the quantity climbed by 477 percent to 2.2 tonnes in 2020.
Historically, production in Europe took conducted in tiny "kitchen" laboratories in the Czech Republic and neighboring countries, but it is now taking place in industrial-scale facilities in the Netherlands and Belgium.
According to the research, crystal methamphetamine is an "unwelcome addition to the EU drug market," and health consequences include "acute toxicity, psychotic episodes, polydrug use, and death."
Findings also indicate that Belgian, French, Dutch, and Spanish drug suppliers are now "in competition," which is leading to an increase in "violent confrontations," like kidnapping and murders.
Corruption is a major issue in the EU, according to the research, with over 60% of criminal networks using it as a facilitator.