Portugal is the final destination for various illicit substances that supply the home market. It is also a transit country for significant quantities of cannabis resin from Morocco and cocaine from Latin America destined for other European countries. Only herbal cannabis is produced domestically, intended to supply the domestic market. Although some industrial-size plantations have been dismantled recently, the majority of plantations that have been dismantled were small scale and outdoors.
The majority of illicit drugs enter Portugal by sea, while land routes (from Spain) and air routes are used to a lesser extent. MDMA/ecstasy arrives predominantly from the Netherlands and is transported by air or overland in cars or lorries. A new route for MDMA trafficking from the Netherlands to Brazil via Portugal has been discovered in recent years. Heroin seized in Portugal comes mainly from the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.
Most of the drug seizures in Portugal, except for heroin, take place at retail level. In 2017, the highest number of seizures involved cannabis resin, followed by cocaine and heroin. The number of cocaine seizures showed a declining trend between 2010 and 2014, but this has stabilised in recent years. The number of heroin seizures observed over the period 2010-14 declined, but more recent data indicate a slight increase in the annual number of reported heroin seizures. MDMA continues to be seized in Portugal less frequently than other illicit substances; however, the number of seizures as well as the quantities seized have been increasing in recent years.
Given recent developments in the drug market, Portuguese law enforcement agencies are developing efforts to strengthen responses to drug trafficking over the internet, including through participation in EU actions intended to counter international drug trafficking operations and increase responses to drug-related crime on the internet.
Data on the retail price and purity of the main illicit substances seized are shown in the ‘Key statistics’ section.