Crime & Justice

Drug trafficking in EU adapts to pandemic

Lisbon, Jun 9 (EFE).- The availability of illegal drugs in the European Union is higher than it has ever been, as traffickers have adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have never had so many drugs and with such purity in Europe,” warned European Monitoring Centre for Drugs experts during a presentation of the agency’s annual report in Lisbon on Wednesday.

The European drug market proved resilient to the pandemic, with the availability of narcotics mostly unaffected, they said.

According to the report, traffickers have adapted to restrictions and border closures by relying less on human carriers to make use of freight transport and commercial supply chains instead.

A digitalization of the black market is another consequence of the pandemic, said Ylva Johansson, European commissioner for home affairs.

“Drug dealers are moving from the streets onto social media, taking orders via encrypted messaging services, sending drugs to customers via home delivery services,” she said.

The use of narcotics in residences has soared, said EMCDDA director Alexis Goosdeel, as the lack of festivals, concerts, and parties halted drug use at festive events.

The use of cocaine and MDMA fell early in the pandemic, but has regained traction since then, while consumption of cannabis and alcohol has grown throughout.

Cocaine and cannabis use are identified by the report as the biggest challenges for the EU.

Cannabis consumption remains stable at a high rate, but THC levels have increased by 20-28% on average depending on the country.

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