Cocaine is being delivered across Europe through ‘call centres’ in radical new arrangements, a major report says.
According to the EU drugs agency, both purity and official seizure levels of cocaine have reached record highs, prompting a warning of the threat caused by such illegal substances.
In England and Wales, 4.7 per cent of young adults used cocaine in the last year – a figure that rose to 12.3 per cent for cannabis.
The annual report, from by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), looks at all 28 EU nations, plus Norway and Turkey.
It found over one million drug seizures are reported annually and said there was a “continuing high availability of most illicit substances”.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Home Affairs Commissioner, said drugs remain a “constantly evolving, multi-faceted threat to our societies”.
He said while efforts to “ban psychoactive substances” are bearing fruit, “we also need to look at the role of digitalisation in the drug market”, adding: “We have no time to spare”.
The EMCDDA warned that technology – such as “social media, darknet marketplaces and encryption techniques” – was creating new forms of drug dealing.
… constantly evolving, multi-faceted threat to our societies.
It said an example was cocaine ‘call centres’ which enabled “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.”
In the UK, cocaine is a class A drug which carries a penalty of up to life in prison for supply, and up to seven years behind bars for possession.
Last year, Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, challenged people who use the drug.
She said people are misguided who “think there is no harm in taking a bit of cocaine”.
“Well, there is; there’s misery throughout the supply chain.”
The EMCDDA report also found:
– That 21 MDMA (ecstasy) ‘laboratories’ were dismantled in the Netherlands in 2017 – nearly double the previous year.
– A total of 55 new psychoactive substances were detected in the EU in 2018.