Croatia is primarily a transit country because of its proximity to the southern leg of the Balkan route. In the past, this route was used mainly to smuggle heroin that originated from Afghanistan; now, other illicit drugs and precursors are smuggled via this route to and from Western Europe. The majority of cannabis products, largely herbal cannabis, reportedly originate from Albania and are smuggled to Croatia by land; however, use of maritime routes has also been reported. Cannabis is also increasingly grown domestically, although mostly for personal use and for the local market. Cocaine, which traditionally comes from South and Central American countries, is trafficked into Croatia by sea or by land from Western Europe or Turkey. Amphetamines and other synthetic stimulant drugs are primarily smuggled from Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as from some Eastern European and Asian countries. Available data indicate that new psychoactive substances are mainly bought online. In 2016, a small-scale illegal laboratory producing amphetamines and MDMA/ecstasy was discovered in Croatia for the first time.
Herbal cannabis remains the most frequently seized substance in Croatia, with a record amount reported in 2016. Following 2011-13, when downsizing of heroin trafficking was evident, based on the number of seizures and amounts seized, the most recent data indicate intensified heroin smuggling. In 2015, the amount of heroin seized tripled compared with 2014, and it remained relatively high in 2016.
Following a period during which there was a downward trend in the number of MDMA seizures, which reached its lowest point in 2010, the seizure data from recent years indicate an increase in the numbers of seizures. In 2016, MDMA was the most frequently seized synthetic stimulant, and the quantities seized indicate an increasing trend in the last five years. An increasing trend has also been noted in the number of amphetamine seizures. The police data indicate that amounts seized increase during the summertime, which may be linked to increased consumption during this season.
Large cocaine seizures remain sporadic; however, in 2016, both the number of cocaine seizures and the amount seized were the highest in the last five-year period. In addition to established illicit drugs, the Croatian law enforcement agencies reported an increase in the number of seizures of pharmaceutical products, such as methadone and buprenorphine.
The available information suggests that the Croatian drug market is dominated by a number of small criminal groups with flexible organisational structures. They are likely to engage in smuggling and distribution of illicit substances, mainly synthetic stimulants, and to have close links with international and national criminal groups active in trafficking other goods and products. To prevent and tackle illicit drug trafficking, the national police participates in various international operations, organises joint investigation teams and is intensifying controls at the state border. At the same time, street-level policing activities, including those implemented during large music festivals held in the country, remain important measures for supply reduction and the prevention of drug-related crime.