EU Points to Wide-ranging Harm to Society from Illicit Drug Trade
Europeans spend at least EUR 24 B a year on illicit drugs, making the activity one of the main sources of cash for organised criminal groups in Europe, according to a new report.
The 2016 EU Drug Markets Report, published on Tuesday by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and Europol, analyses the considerable costs of the illicit drug markets for society, the European Commission said in a statement.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, commented that “[…] the instability in regions neighbouring the EU could have potentially profound effects on the drug market in Europe. This valuable report explores the links to other criminal activities and how the illicit income from the drug trade can fund migrant smuggling and terrorism, and undermine international development efforts."
The report shows that drug trafficking routes appear to be less commodity-specific than before, whilst legitimate transport and logistic infrastructures continue to be exploited, with maritime containers representing a convenient channel for large shipments of drugs to be imported into Europe.
Recent developments in Internet markets including the dark net, anonymising software and crypto-currencies also offer new opportunities for online drug supply, according to the statement.
The analysis points to Increasing links between drug trafficking and other forms of crime, accelerated rate of change in the drug market due to globalisation and technology and geographical concentration of groups specialised in drug related crimes.
Europol Director, Rob Wainwright, pointed out in the statement: “Illicit drug production and trafficking remains one of the largest and most innovative criminal markets in Europe. As it grows more complex and becomes entwined with other forms of crime, and even terrorism, it represents a key threat to the internal security of the EU.”
The report highlights that EU Drugs Strategy (2013–20) and Action Plan (2013–16) provide a framework for addressing illicit drug markets in the EU, complementing Member States’ national strategies.
The ultimate objective is a considerable reduction of the availability of illicit drugs through the disruption of trafficking, dismantling of organised crime groups, efficient use of the criminal justice system, efficient intelligence-led law enforcement and increased intelligence sharing, as well as emphasis on large-scale, cross-border and organised drug-related crime at EU level, the European Commission said.
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