according to a report From the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on drug markets. With international travel severely curtailed, producers have struggled to get their products to market. Nightclubs and bars have closed as officials intensified their attempts to control the virus, causing It caused a decline in the demand for drugs such as cocaine that are often associated with these settings.
However, the latest data indicates that this decline had little effect on long-term trends. The global supply of cocaine has reached record levels. Almost 2,000 tons were produced in 2020, continuing the manufacturing spike that began in 2014, when the total was less than half current levels.
according to WatchmanProduction of coca, the drug’s primary ingredient, rose 35% in 2020-2021, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.
said Antoine Villa, a researcher with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime who contributed to the report on cocaine.
The UN report says the increase is partly the result of expanded coca bush cultivation, which doubled between 2013 and 2017, peaked in 2018, and rose sharply again in 2021.
But it is also due to improvements in the process of switching from coca bush to cocaine hydrochloride. In parallel, there has been a continuous growth in demand, with most regions showing a steady increase in user numbers over the past decade. Although these increases can be explained in part by population growth, there is also an increasing prevalence of cocaine use. And interceptions by law enforcement are increasing, at a faster rate than production, which means that prohibition has contained the growth of the global amount of cocaine available for consumption,” the report continues.
while the Cocaine Trade has always been concentrated in major centers like Colombia, which may change. As Villa said Watchman“I think we need to get away from thinking of cocaine as a European/North American problem because it’s also a very big problem in South America.”
“The cocaine trade in Colombia used to be controlled by a few major players. As a result of the fragmentation of the criminal scene after the demobilization of Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) in 2016, it now includes criminal groups of all sizes, structures and objectives. Recently, however, there have been signs of consolidation of some These groups.These developments have increased the presence of foreign actors in Colombia.Mexican and Balkan criminal groups have moved closer to the center of production to gain access to supplies and wholesale quantities of cocaine, the report says.These foreign groups do not aim to control territory.Instead, They are trying to make supply lines more efficient. Their presence helps stimulate coca bush cultivation and finance all stages of the supply chain.”
The report continues: “In established cocaine markets, the proportion of the general population who use the drug is high. But these markets cover only about a fifth of the world’s population. If penetration in other regions increases to match existing markets, the number of users globally will increase tremendously due to the large core population. This kind of market convergence was already occurring in the case of Western and Central Europe, where purity levels and prices were harmonized with the United States, although the prevalence of cocaine use in Western and Central Europe had not yet reached the level in the United States. . “