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HomeNews'High alert': Cocaine production and smuggling surge after pandemic-related slowdown

‘High alert’: Cocaine production and smuggling surge after pandemic-related slowdown


Cocaine production and trafficking are increasing around the world after falling sharply during the COVID pandemic.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said thursday that new centers and growing criminal networks are behind the comeback that began when COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

“The COVID-19 pandemic had a disruptive effect on drug markets. With international travel severely restricted, growers struggled to get their product to market,” the report states. “Nightclubs and bars were closed as officials stepped up their attempts to control the virus, causing demand for drugs like cocaine to plummet.”

But the drug has made a strong comeback, “with most regions showing a steady increase in the number of users over the past decade,” according to the report.

“The surge in the global supply of cocaine should put us all on high alert,” said Ghada Waly, a UN official. “The potential for the expansion of the cocaine market in Africa and Asia is a dangerous reality.”

The UN cited improvements in the process that turns the coca bush into cocaine and more general cultivation of the plant as reasons for the surge in supply, which increased by 35% between 2021 and 2022. That also led to more and more seizures by law enforcement. In 2021, more than 2,000 tons were seized.

Waly recommended transnational responses based on “awareness, prevention, and international and regional cooperation” to stop traffickers.

The UN said demand is highest in the Americas, the Caribbean and Europe, but traffic hubs in West and Central Africa could generate more users on that continent and in Asia.

“With its latest knowledge and trends on the routes, modalities and networks employed by criminal actors,” said Angela Me, a UN official, “I hope the report supports evidence-based strategies that stay ahead of developments. futures in cocaine production. , traffic and use”.

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