- 06 Jun 19
'Cocaine call centres' are now a reality, they say
In a report released today in Brussels, the EU Drugs Agency, EMCDDA, reveal that cocaine seizures in Europe are at a record level.
The 2017 numbers that have just been crunched show 104,000 cocaine seizures, amounting to 140.4 tonnes of the drug, around double the quantity seized in 2016.
“Although the retail price of cocaine remained stable, its purity at street level reached its highest level in a decade in 2017,” they say. “Cocaine enters Europe through numerous routes and means, but the growth in large-volume trafficking, using maritime shipping containers, stands out as a major challenge. There is evidence that the use of social media, darknet marketplaces and encryption techniques are playing an increasing role in enabling smaller groups and individuals to engage in drug dealing. Looking at the cocaine market, entrepreneurship can be seen in innovative distribution methods. One example is the existence of cocaine ‘call centres’, with couriers providing fast and flexible delivery. Such methods — reflecting a potential ‘uberisation’ of the cocaine trade — are indicative of a competitive market in which sellers compete by offering additional services beyond the product itself.
“Cocaine is the most commonly used illicit stimulant drug in the EU, with around 2.6 million young adults (15–34 years) having used it in the last year (2017 estimate). A recent study of drug residues in municipal wastewater revealed that, between 2017 and 2018, there were increases in cocaine metabolites in 22 of the 38 cities with data for this period, confirming the upward trend also reported in 2017.
“There are signs that the increase in cocaine supply is associated with more reported health problems,” the report continues. “The latest estimates show that around 73,000 clients now enter specialised drug treatment for cocaine-related problems. Of particular concern are the 11,000 of these who entered treatment for crack cocaine-related problems, a particularly damaging form of cocaine consumption. The number of ‘new’ clients reported as requiring treatment for a cocaine problem for the first time rose by 37% between 2014 and 2017, suggesting treatment needs are growing. Cocaine was also the illicit drug most commonly reported in drug-related hospital emergency presentations recorded by a network of 26 sentinel hospitals in 18 European countries in 2017.”