EU Drug Market: Amphetamine — Actions to address current threats and increase preparedness

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An increase in amphetamine production in the EU is likely to lead to a rise in the availability of the drug in Europe, bringing with it a complex set of health and security problems. At the strategic level, two priority areas emerge:

  • Improving the intelligence picture on amphetamine trafficking, including through enhanced monitoring, sharing and gathering information, in order to effectively address the associated health and social problems, including criminality;
  • The reduction of amphetamine production and distribution in the EU, including by reducing the importation of designer precursors; disrupting captagon flows into the EU and trafficking of the drug to consumer markets.

To respond to the current and future threats, the following actions are required.

Improve the strategic and intelligence picture: monitoring and detection

  • Further enhance the exchange of operational and strategic information in order to improve intelligence picture on amphetamine trafficking and allow for targeted actions on issues such as:
    • Actors, modi operandi, routes and enablers of amphetamine trafficking in the EU, innovation in the methods used to produce amphetamine, expansion of production to countries outside the established west European hubs, the trafficking of amphetamine oil within the EU;
    • EU-based production of captagon and the use of the EU for transhipment of this product (especially ports), as well as the extent of amphetamine trafficking to non-EU markets.
  • Enhance monitoring and control of precursors and essential chemicals used in amphetamine production. Understanding of this crucial element needs to be improved, particularly concerning the role of source countries and trafficking between Member States. Criminal networks currently adapt to legislation and measures implemented for the control of precursors, exploiting the time lag between the identification of new precursors and their control. Enhancing strategies to reduce the supply of precursors is thus a key area of concern.
  • Monitor, investigate and enhance intelligence gathering on legal business structures established, acquired or infiltrated for illegal purposes, including the supply or procurement of precursors, essential chemicals and equipment for amphetamine production, as well as those used for facilitating the distribution of amphetamine.
  • Enhance information sharing and data collection on the money-laundering infrastructure employed by EU-based amphetamine traffickers, including actors delivering such services remotely through financial hubs outside the EU.
  • Improve data collection on amphetamine, including by distinguishing between amphetamine and methamphetamine in reporting. In some datasets, amphetamine and methamphetamine are combined, which complicates the processes of monitoring and conducting detailed analysis on trends in these two markets. As such, refinement of these particular data collection methodologies will be important in the future.
  • Monitor signals of increasing amphetamine and precursor trade in the online environment, particularly on surface web marketplaces and platforms, in order to enhance the intelligence picture of the countries from where they are advertised or shipped, and ultimately identify the actors involved. Broaden cooperation with the parcel and postal services used to traffic amphetamine traded both online and offline.

Strengthen responses to reduce supply and enhance security

  • Ensure that cross-border investigations tackle the entire production chain for amphetamine. In addition to EU producers of amphetamine end-products ready for distribution on user markets, identify and map the criminal actors involved in the production of precursors and amphetamine oil in the EU, as well as the criminal networks and the brokers specialising in the supply of precursors, alternative chemicals, reagents and equipment as a service to EU-based amphetamine producers. Furthermore, investigations must address the support infrastructure that underpins amphetamine trafficking, including legal business structures established, acquired or infiltrated for illegal purposes, document fraud and money laundering.
  • Initiate investigations into high-value targets (HVTs) involved in amphetamine trafficking. This has the potential to significantly disrupt serious and organised crime, as HVTs operate at the upper echelons of criminal networks or may act as brokers, working with more than one criminal network involved in amphetamine trafficking.
  • Fully engage the EU-level cooperation frameworks, such as the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT), as well as Operational Task Forces (OTFs), Joint Investigation Teams (JITs) and other resources and capabilities of EU agencies with a relevant mandate in combatting and preventing amphetamine trafficking.

Strengthen international cooperation

  • Further enhance cooperation between the Member States, EU institutions and international stakeholders working to reduce the supply of amphetamine, precursors and other essential chemicals. This cooperation should be based on active engagement combined with an intensified exchange of operational and strategic information.
  • Initiate multilateral investigations into criminal networks trafficking precursors into the EU. Closer cooperation within the EU is needed, and externally with origin countries like China and India.
  • Intensify cooperation with countries linked to captagon production and trafficking. Concerted efforts are required to counter the exploitation of the legitimate trade between EU countries and regions implicated in captagon trafficking.

Investment in capacity-building

  • Increase the awareness of threats related to amphetamine. Raise awareness and provide training for law enforcement on the actors, routes, concealment methods and modi operandi used for trafficking amphetamine, precursors and essential chemicals. In particular, the risk of smuggling amphetamine base oil within the EU and the flow of captagon tablets entering and exiting through the EU’s borders should be highlighted.
  • Support the forensic analysis and chemical profiling of amphetamine seizures. Greater efforts are needed to harmonise the routine forensic analysis of amphetamine seizures in the EU. The transfer of samples for chemical profiling should be facilitated by the Member States with a view to improving the intelligence picture and determining production methods, the isomeric form, and, potentially, the origin of the drug.
  • Increase capacities to safely dismantle sites related to amphetamine production. Training and access to specialised equipment are required for law enforcement and other first responders in order to manage the safety risks at locations related to amphetamine production, chemical storage and waste dumping.

Strengthen policy, public health and safety responses

  • Develop prevention, harm reduction and treatment responses. Overall, concerted public health interventions are needed to reduce the demand for amphetamine. Individuals who seek treatment for problems associated with the use of amphetamines are heterogeneous in terms of their social conditions and modes of use, which has important implications for devising appropriate responses and reducing barriers to accessing treatment. In particular, further attention should be given to strengthening interventions for people who inject amphetamine, including improving the understanding of how patterns of injecting differ between countries, which could have implications for the harms associated with this behaviour.
  • Enhance the understanding and awareness of the environmental impacts of amphetamine production. An EU-wide analysis of the environmental impact of synthetic drug production is needed. This will inform the development of strategies and actions to address the environmental impacts of amphetamine production, such as pollution, hazards to health and the economic costs associated with cleaning contaminated sites and disposing of chemical waste.


Consult the list of references used in this resource.