Sunday, December 8, 2019

Black markets for drugs in Europe: report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

Here is the 2019 report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and Europol, the EU's police organization:

EU Drug Markets Report 2019
EMCDDA, Europol, Lisbon, November 2019

Summary: The EU Drug Markets Report 2019 is the third comprehensive overview of illicit drug markets in the European Union by the EMCDDA and Europol. The analysis presented in this report spans numerous topics such as the links between drugs and other crimes, the licit economy and society more generally as well as the processes and players involved in the trade, from production and trafficking to distribution. Taking an evidence-based approach, the report reviews the markets for heroin, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA and new psychoactive substances. It also provides action points to inform policy development at EU and national level. This publication is an essential reference for law enforcement professionals, policymakers, the academic community and indeed for anyone seeking up-to-date information and analysis on drug markets in Europe.

Here is the full report.

From the Executive Summary:

"The drug market is a major source of income for organised crime groups (OCGs) in the EU, with minimum estimated retail value of EUR 30 billion per year. In addition to the economic impact, drug-related deaths and other harms to public health, there are broader consequences of drug markets, such as links with wider criminal activities and terrorism; the negative impact on the legal economy; violence in communities; damage to the environment; and the increasingly important issue of how the drug market can fuel corruption and undermine governance.
" All data indicate that overall drug availability within Europe, for both natural and synthetic drugs,
remains very high. The European drug market is increasingly characterised by consumers having access to a wide variety of high-purity and high-potency products that, in real terms, are usually equivalent in price or cheaper than they have been over the past decade.
Europe’s biggest drug market is for cannabis and significant production of the drug takes place within the EU. With around 25 million annual users, the retail market for cannabis was estimated to be worth at least EUR 11.6 billion in 2017. Around one in seven young adults in the EU reports having used cannabis in the past year, with prevalence rates generally stable but with early signs of possible  increases in some countries.
"Herbal cannabis is extensively produced within the EU, with estimates indicating that at least 20 000 cultivation sites are dismantled each year, and is a major source of income for the criminal economy. Despite efforts to counter production, the Western Balkans, and Albania in particular, appear to remain an important source of origin for seized herbal cannabis
"Heroin and other opioids
The use of heroin and other opioids still accounts for the largest share of drug-related harms. The retail value of the heroin market in 2017 was estimated to be at least EUR 7.4 billion. There are indications that heroin availability in the EU may increase: recent opium production estimates from Afghanistan, levels of seizures in Turkey and intelligence assessments of activity along the main trafficking routes to Europe are all high, and large consignments of heroin have been detected within the EU.
The cocaine market is the second largest illicit drug market in the EU, with an estimated minimum retail value in 2017 of EUR 9.1 billion. Surveys estimate that about 4 million people in the EU will have used cocaine in the past year. Use is still concentrated in the west and south of Europe but appears to be becoming more common elsewhere.
"While Colombian and Italian OCGs have historically played a central role in the trafficking
and distribution of cocaine, increasingly other groups are becoming more significant, including Albanian-speaking, British, Dutch, French, Irish, Moroccan, Serbian, Spanish and Turkish OCGs. At the same time some European OCGs have established a presence in Latin American countries, developing a new ‘end-to-end’ business model for managing the supply chain, with large quantities of cocaine purchased near production areas at lower costs. This may be driving competition and conflict within the cocaine market and leading to increasing cocaine market-related violence and corruption within the EU.
" The global market for cocaine appears to be growing and a knock-on effect of this is that the EU appears to be increasingly used as a transit area for cocaine destined for other markets such as Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Turkey and countries in the Middle East and Asia. The cocaine market is increasingly enabled by digital technology, including darknet markets and the use of the surface web, social media and mobile phone apps to advertise and facilitate the delivery of cocaine to consumers. Innovation seen in the supply chain at the consumer level is suggestive of both high
availability and attempts by OCGs to increase market share.
"Synthetic drugs: amphetamine, MDMA and methamphetamine
Europe’s synthetic drugs market, particularly in respect to stimulants like amphetamine, MDMA and methamphetamine, is evolving rapidly. Within the stimulant market, these drugs compete for market share alongside cocaine and a number of new psychoactive substances. Of the two closely related stimulants, amphetamine continues to be more commonly used than methamphetamine in most EU countries, though there are growing signs of a gradual diffusion of methamphetamine use. The value of the EU retail market for amphetamines (amphetamine and methamphetamine combined) in 2017 is estimated to be at least EUR 1 billion, and for MDMA EUR 0.5 billion.
"New psychoactive substances
Policies relating to new psychoactive substances (NPS) appear to be having some impact, especially those aimed at reducing open trade in the EU as well as measures taken in source countries, such as China. There has been a slow-down in the number of first detections of NPS in Europe. Currently around 50 new substances are reported annually, giving a total of over 730 that have been reported to the EU Early Warning System."

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