Spain Country Drug Report 2019

Drug markets

As a result of its geographical location, Spain is one of the EU countries favoured by international drug traffickers for the transit of cannabis resin and cocaine to other European countries. On an annual basis, Spain frequently reports large seizures of cocaine and cannabis resin, in terms of both number of seizures and quantities seized. Cocaine arrives in Spain mainly by sea. It is concealed in shipping containers that come either directly from the producing countries (Colombia and Peru) or via other Central or South American countries.

Most cannabis resin seized in Spain comes directly from Morocco or via the Eastern Mediterranean route, although route this appears to be in decline. Herbal cannabis is also cultivated in Spain; there are indications that domestic production has increased since 2009 and is intended to supply local demand while also destined for other EU countries.

Historically, heroin comes mainly from Pakistan via the Balkan route, although its dominance has reduced in recent years. In 2017, seized heroin was imported mainly from Turkey, Pakistan and Mozambique, either in shipping containers or by air using drug mules. In 2017, the number of seizures and quantity of heroin seized increased.

Overall, the number of drug seizures has increased over the past decade, although in 2017 a decrease was observed. Cannabis products are the most frequently seized drugs in Spain. Despite an overall decline in cannabis seizures in 2017, the annual quantities of cannabis seized from bulk seizures increased, both for resin and herbal cannabis. Cocaine remains the second most seized drug in Spain, and the quantities increased sharply in 2017.

Spain appears to have a stable situation with regard to seizures of synthetic stimulant drugs (amphetamine, methamphetamine and MDMA/ecstasy), with the number of seizures and amounts seized similar to the data reported in 2016.

Actions to identify and dismantle international criminal networks involved in the trafficking of drugs are the priority for Spanish law enforcement agencies. This is done by intensive controls in the southern coastal areas and ports; investigating, discovering and confiscating the proceeds of drug trafficking; asset tracing and money laundering investigations; preventing the distribution of illicit drugs within the country; and fostering international cooperation.

Data on the retail price and purity of the main illicit substances seized are shown in the ‘Key statistics’ section.

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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.