The global supply of cocaine reached record levels in the world after the economic recovery after the pandemic, which “should put us all on high alert,” according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)World cocaine supply reaches record levels and “should put us all on high alert”.
The Global Cocaine Report 2023 exposes that coca cultivation soared 35% between 2020 and 2021, a record and the largest year-on-year increase since 2016.
This increase in production is in direct response to an increase in demand over the last decade.
“The increase is due to both the expansion of coca bush cultivation and improvements in the process of transforming coca bush into cocaine hydrochloride,” according to UNODC.
According to the report, seizures reached a record high of nearly 2,000 tons in 2021.
“North Sea ports, such as Antwerp, Rotterdam, and Hamburg, have eclipsed the traditional entry points in Spain and Portugal for cocaine arriving in Western Europe,” according to the UN.
The business is still concentrated in the Americas and parts of Europe, but UNODC warns of strong potential for expansion in Africa and Asia.
“The increase in the global supply of cocaine should put us all on high alert (…) The potential for expansion of the cocaine market in Africa and Asia is a dangerous reality,” said UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly.
In the case of Central America, there has been an increase and diversification of channels for maritime shipments to Europe.
While Andean countries such as Bolivia and Peru have seen increases in coca leaf cultivation, in Brazil, there is an increase in the use of aircraft for the entry and movement of cocaine.
“The pandemic appears to have disrupted the cocaine market in Brazil, both on the supply and demand side,” the report says.
Criminal groups have occupied the spaces left in Colombia after the 2016 demobilization of Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) fighters.
The new actors now controlling coca-growing regions range from FARC dissidents to foreign groups from Mexico and Europe.
In 2021, coca cultivation in Colombia increased by 43%, and potential cocaine manufacture rose by 14%, record levels in both cases.
“The evidence shows that the cocaine problem is a transnational-transatlantic-transcontinental problem,” warned Ghada Waly.
In February of this year, the Colombian government informed that together with Bolivia, it was going to request the acceptance of the traditional use of coca leaf and remove it from the list of prohibited substances at the 66th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), which will be held until this Friday in Vienna (Austria).
“Bolivia undertook an initiative more or less ten years ago to achieve the legalization of the traditional use of coca. What they did was to denounce the Convention on Narcotic Drugs,” said at the time the Deputy Minister of Multilateral Affairs, Laura Gil.
With information from Bloomberg