In recent years, the Hungarian drug market has been restructured considerably. Most notably, NPS are increasingly replacing the established drugs, thus posing challenges to law enforcement agencies. In addition, as demonstrated by a recent national study, a tendency towards fragmentation of the retail market is occurring, with separate retail markets for stimulants and cannabis products.
Cannabis products remain the most frequently seized established drug in Hungary. Herbal cannabis is increasingly being smuggled into the country by Vietnamese-led criminal groups from the Czech Republic, from the West Balkan countries and by Hungarian offenders from the Netherlands. Cannabis is also cultivated in Hungary, albeit on a small scale.
Hungary has traditionally been a transit country for heroin originating from Afghanistan and trafficked across the Middle East via the Balkan route to West Europe. However, a ‘heroin shortage’ was observed in the Hungarian market in 2011-13, when the number of heroin seizures was very low compared with the period before 2010, and the amounts seized were relatively small. Synthetic drugs, such as amphetamines and MDMA, are smuggled from Belgium and the Netherlands. In 2015, several large seizures of MDMA tablets were reported, which resulted in the largest amount being reported for the period 2011-15.
In addition, two small-scale amphetamine production sites were dismantled in 2015. In recent years, the cocaine seized in Hungary had been transported in cars through Spain and the Netherlands, or has been smuggled directly from South America by drug mules. The data indicate an increasing trend in cocaine seizures, while the amounts seized show large annual fluctuations.
China is the main source of NPS, and these substances usually arrive in Hungary by post, although some raw materials are shipped from Slovakia, the Netherlands and Spain. The proportion of all seizures accounted for by NPS has increased steadily since 2010. These substances were involved in nearly 60 % of all seizures in 2014, while, in 2015, NPS were seized as frequently as established drugs. Herbal substances treated with synthetic cannabinoids and cathinone derivatives are the most commonly seized NPS. Long-term detailed analysis indicates that the NPS market is changing rapidly, which has been determined mainly by the introduction of new control mechanisms. In 2015, several seizures of untreated herbal material and synthetic cannabinoid preparations were reported, indicating that some packaging/mixing of NPS products may have taken place in the country.
The retail price and purity of the main illicit substances seized are shown below.
Drug seizures in Hungary: trends in number of seizures (left) and quantities seized (right)
NBYear of data 2015.
Price and potency/purity ranges of illicit drugs reported in Hungary
NBPrice and potency/purity ranges: EU and national mean values: minimum and maximum.
Year of data 2015.