Italy Country Drug Report 2018

Drug markets

The Italian illicit drug market is dominated by large organised crime structures with well-established international links and operating bases in principal drug production and trafficking regions, such as South America, South-East Asia and northern and south-eastern Europe. Cocaine traffickers operating in Italy are supplied mostly by the Colombian market. Heroin from Afghanistan reaches Italy mainly via the Balkan route (the southern branch, mostly by sea (ferries), and the central branch, by land). Criminal groups organise cannabis resin (mostly of Moroccan origin) shipments from Spain to Italy either directly or via other European countries; alternative maritime routes from Libya, Egypt and Turkey have been developing in recent years. Herbal cannabis arrives along routes that start in Albania. A large proportion of illicit drugs pass through Italy en route to other European Union countries. The maritime route of illicit drug trafficking is of primary importance for all substances, although drugs are also smuggled into Italy by air and by land from neighbouring countries. Domestic cannabis cultivation is reported, predominantly in southern Italy. New psychoactive substances (NPS) are usually purchased online and are shipped to the country via postal services.

In the overall structure of illicit drug seizures, cannabis products dominate, followed by cocaine and heroin, with other substances (mainly synthetic stimulants) seized less frequently. Following seizure of a record number of cannabis plants (more than 4 million) in 2012, the numbers of plants seized annually has fallen, although there was an increase in 2016 compared with 2015 and 2014 (464 723, 138 013 and 121 659 plants, respectively). In 2016, more than 41 tonnes of herbal cannabis was seized, which is almost four times as much as reported in 2015. At the same time, a sharp reduction in the amounts of cannabis resin seized has been noted, possibly due to recent readjustments of the trafficking routes. Police operations in 2016 led to cocaine seizures that amounted to more than those reported in 2014 and 2015. In contrast, the annual quantity of heroin seized has declined steadily since 2008, indicating possible shrinking of the market. The amounts of synthetic drugs seized, such as MDMA and amphetamines, remain low.

 

#

 

#

 

#


Italy main page

Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.