Owing to its geographical position, Spain is one of the EU countries most targeted by international drug traffickers, especially for the transit of cannabis resin and cocaine to other European countries. Therefore, actions to discover and dismantle international criminal networks involved in the trafficking of drugs are priorities for the Spanish law enforcement agencies and are carried out through intensifying control in the southern coastal areas and ports for packages of drugs; investigating, discovering and confiscating the proceeds of drug trafficking and money laundering; preventing the distribution of illicit drugs within the country; and fostering international cooperation. In this context, Spain remains one of the European countries reporting large seizures of cocaine and cannabis resin, in terms of both number of seizures and quantities seized. According to information from drug law enforcement agencies, seized cocaine generally originates from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia and arrives in Spain directly or via Central or South American countries by sea, concealed in shipping containers.
Nearly all cannabis resin seized by the Spanish law enforcement bodies comes directly from Morocco or via the Eastern Mediterranean route. However, activity on the latter, which had emerged for the trafficking of cannabis products in recent years, seems to be on the decline. Cannabis is also cultivated in Spain; there are indications that its production has increased since 2009 and is intended to supply local demand for herbal cannabis as well as being trafficked to other EU countries.
Historically, heroin came mainly from Pakistan via the Balkan route, although its dominance has reduced in recent years, with the Southern and Northern routes playing equally important roles. In 2015, the majority of the trafficked heroin was seized from ‘human mules’ arriving via African countries.
Overall, the number of drug seizures has increased over the past decade, although in 2016 a reduction in the number of seizures was noted. Cannabis products remain the illicit drugs most frequently seized in Spain. An overall decline in cannabis resin seizures has been noted since 2009, with some stabilisation in recent years. Although the annual quantities of resin seized since 2010 have been lower than those reported prior to 2010, an increase in the quantity of herbal cannabis from large-scale seizures has been reported by the Spanish law enforcement agencies.
Cocaine remains the second most frequently seized illicit drug, although between 2009 and 15 a decline in the numbers of cocaine seizures was reported. In 2016, the number of cocaine seizures had increased compared with the years between 2013 and 2015 but the amount seized was the smallest reported in this century (since 2000).
In 2016, the number and amount of heroin seizures remained stable. Spain reported an increase in synthetic stimulants (amphetamines and MDMA/ecstasy); the number of seizures and amount seized were higher in 2016 than in 2015, mainly due to a rise in large-scale seizures.
Spain reports mean potency (percentage of THC) or purity (percentage or mg per tablet) and average prices for the main illicit drugs. The mean potency for cannabis resin in 2016 was 18.5 % THC, while for herbal cannabis it was 10.1 % THC. The mean purity for heroin in 2016 was 21.5 % heroin hydrochloride and for cocaine the mean purity was 33.5 % cocaine hydrochloride. In 2016, the mean price of cannabis resin was around EUR 6.5/g; herbal cannabis, EUR 5/g; heroin, EUR 57.8/g; cocaine, EUR 58.2/g; and amphetamines, EUR 28.1/g. The mean price for one MDMA tablet was EUR 11.4.