A United Nations report on Thursday showed that the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany have become the main import hub for cocaine in Western Europe.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in Vienna that “ports on the North Sea like Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg have eclipsed traditional entry points in Spain and Portugal for cocaine arriving in Western Europe.’’
In its report on the global cocaine market, the UN agency expressed concern that the cultivation of the coca plant used to make cocaine skyrocketed by 35 per cent after a lag due to the pandemic in 2022.
The area for cultivation in South America reportedly grew to more than 300,000 hectares.
The UNODC also reported that the increase in production was partly down to advances in the chemical processing of the coca plant.
In many regions of the world, demand for the drug has also increased over the past decade, the report said.
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The UNODC believes the North Sea route may have contributed to the greater distribution of cocaine in Europe.
It said this was because about 10 years ago, smugglers of Albanian origin began buying the product directly in South America and shipping it to Belgium and the Netherlands.
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