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Please note that the information on this page is based on the EMCDDA Annual report 2010: the state of the drugs problem in Europe. Most statistical data relate to the year 2008 (or the last year available).

 
 

Annual report 2010: the state of the drugs problem in Europe
Cocaine and crack cocaine

Published: 10 November 2010

Supply and availability

Production and trafficking

Cultivation of coca bush, the source of cocaine, continues to be concentrated in three countries in the Andean region. The UNODC (2010) estimated for the year 2009 that the total cultivation of 158 000 hectares of coca bush translated into a potential production of between 842 and 1 111 tonnes of pure cocaine, compared to an estimated 865 tonnes in 2008 (UNODC, 2010). The area under cultivation in 2009 is estimated at 158 000 hectares, down from 167 600 hectares in 2009; a decrease of 5 % largely attributed to a reduction in the area under coca in Columbia not offset by increases in Peru and Bolivia.

The conversion of coca leaves into cocaine hydrochloride is mainly carried out in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, although it may also occur in other countries. Colombia’s importance in the production of cocaine is corroborated by information on laboratories dismantled and seizures of potassium permanganate, a chemical reagent used in the manufacture of cocaine hydrochloride. In 2008, 3 200 cocaine laboratories were dismantled (INCB, 2010b) and a total of 42 tonnes of potassium permanganate (90 % of global seizures) was seized in Colombia (INCB, 2010a).

The available information suggests that cocaine continues to be trafficked to Europe via different air and sea routes. Cocaine consignments transit through countries including Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela and Mexico before reaching Europe. Caribbean islands are also frequently used in the transhipment of the drug to Europe. In recent years, alternative routes through West Africa have been detected (EMCDDA and Europol, 2010). Although a ‘substantive decline’ in seizures of cocaine transiting West Africa was reported for 2008 (UNODC, 2009), it is likely that significant amounts of the drug still go through the region (EMCDDA and Europol, 2010).

The Iberian Peninsula, especially Spain, and the Low Countries, especially the Netherlands, appear to be the points of entry for cocaine being smuggled into Europe. France, Italy and the United Kingdom are frequently mentioned as important transit or destination countries inside Europe. Recent reports also indicate that cocaine trafficking may be expanding eastward (EMCDDA and Europol, 2010; INCB, 2010b). The aggregate figure for ten central and eastern European countries shows an increase in the number of cocaine seizures, from 469 cases in 2003 to 1 212 in 2008, but these still represent only about 1 % of the European total.

Table 7: Production, seizures, price and purity of cocaine and crack cocaine
  Cocaine Crack (1)

(1) Due to the small set of countries reporting information, data should be interpreted with caution.
(2) UNODC estimates this figure to be equivalent to 412 tonnes of pure cocaine.
(3) Range of the middle half of the reported mean prices.

NB: All data for 2008, except global production estimate (2009); n.a., data not available.

Sources:  UNODC (2010b) for global values, Reitox national focal points for European data.

Global production estimate
(tonnes)
842–1 111 n.a.
Global quantities seized
(tonnes)
711 (2) n.a.
Quantity seized (tonnes)
EU and Norway
(including Croatia and Turkey)
67
(67)
0.06
(0.06)
Number of seizures
EU and Norway
(including Croatia and Turkey)

95 700
(96 300)

10 100
(10 100)
Mean retail price (EUR per gram)
Range
(Interquartile range) (3)

37–107
(50–70)

45–82
Range of mean purity (%) 13–62 20–89

Seizures

Cocaine is the most trafficked drug in the world after herbal cannabis and cannabis resin. In 2008, global seizures of cocaine remained largely stable at about 711 tonnes (Table 7) (UNODC, 2010). South America continued to report the largest amount seized, accounting for 60 % of the global figure (CND, 2009), followed by North America with 28 %, and west and central Europe with 11 % (UNODC, 2009).

In Europe, the number of cocaine seizures has been on the increase for the last 20 years, and more notably since 2004. In 2008, the number of cocaine seizures increased to 96 000 cases, though the total quantity intercepted dropped to 67 tonnes, down from 121 tonnes in 2006 and 76 tonnes in 2007. The fall in the total amount of cocaine seized is largely accounted for by decreases in the amounts recovered since 2006 in Spain and Portugal (1). This might be explained by changes in trafficking routes or practices, or changes in law enforcement priorities. In 2008, Spain continued to be the country reporting both the largest quantity of cocaine seized and the highest number of seizures of the drug — about half of the total — in Europe. This analysis is preliminary as data for 2008 are not yet available for the Netherlands, which reported the second largest quantities of cocaine intercepted in 2007.

Purity and price

The mean purity of cocaine samples tested ranged between 25 % and 55 % for most reporting countries in 2008, although lower values were reported in Denmark (retail only, 23 %) and some parts of the United Kingdom (Scotland, 13 %), and higher ones in Belgium (59 %), France (60 %) and Romania (62 %) (2). Twenty-one countries provided sufficient data for analysis of trends in cocaine purity over the period 2003–08, with 17 of the countries reporting a decline, three a stable situation (Germany, Greece, France), and Portugal observing an increase.

In 2008, the mean retail price of cocaine ranged between EUR 50 and EUR 70 per gram in half of the 18 reporting countries. Lower prices were reported in Poland and Portugal and higher ones in the Czech Republic, Italy, Latvia and Sweden. With one exception, all countries with sufficient data to make a comparison, reported a decrease in cocaine retail prices between 2003 and 2008. Only Poland reported an increase over the period, albeit with a decline in 2008.

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Footnotes

(1) See Tables SZR-9 and SZR-10 in the 2010 statistical bulletin.

(2) For purity and price data, see Tables PPP-3 and PPP-7 in the 2010 statistical bulletin.

Bibliographic references

CND (Commission on Narcotic Drugs) (2009), World drug situation with regard to drug trafficking: report of the Secretariat, Commission on Narcotic Drugs, United Nations, Vienna.

EMCDDA and Europol (2010), Cocaine: a European Union perspective in the global context, EMCDDA-Europol joint publications, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.

INCB (International Narcotics Control Board) (2010a), Precursors and chemicals frequently used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, United Nations, New York (available online).

INCB (International Narcotics Control Board) (2010b), Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2009, United Nations, New York (available online).

UNODC (2009), World drug report 2009, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna.

UNODC (2010), World drug report 2010, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna.

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Page last updated: Tuesday, 26 October 2010