European cocaine market continues to rise, UN anti-drugs chief warns

Cocaine haul

10 May 2011 – Cocaine use continues to surge in Europe, the top United Nations anti-drugs official warned today, outlining what he called “the dramatic evolution of the international market” for the drug in the past decade.

Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), addressed a meeting of government ministers in Paris that aimed to enhance international efforts to counter transatlantic cocaine trafficking.

“Despite a declining market in North America, the use of cocaine continues to rise in Europe. In 1998, the US cocaine market wasDespite a declining market in North America, the use of cocaine continues to rise in Europe. In 1998, the US cocaine market was four times higher than that of Europe four times higher than that of Europe,” he told the G8+ Ministerial Meeting.

“Since then, there has been a complete rebalancing with the value of Europe's market now estimated to be worth some $33 billion, almost equivalent to that of the United States’ $37 billion.”

From market diversification and growing cocaine use in Europe, through to new delivery routes, Mr. Fedotov stressed that today’s cocaine market has become a global threat.

In West Africa, for instance, traffickers use the region’s relative proximity to Europe as a transit location for drug trans-shipments. This has also fuelled the development of growing local markets – a phenomenon not considered that prevalent a few years ago. In Central America, cocaine trafficking has caused an increase in the level of violence in some countries.

The anti-drugs agency estimates that global cocaine sales generated around $84 billion in profit in 2009 – a sum equivalent to or even exceeding the gross domestic product (GDP) of many developing countries.

In tackling the problem, UNODC has welcomed the endorsement of the G8 Plan of Action and Political Declaration, which recognizes the role played by the international drug control conventions and UNODC. Mr. Fedotov noted that the fight against transatlantic drug trafficking is a joint responsibility which requires united efforts and political commitment by all concerned.

“It is necessary for the European and North American States to tackle this problem in a coordinated, combined manner through the implementation of policies aimed at reducing demand for cocaine, tracking the illicit movement of drugs and successfully confiscating criminal assets.”


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