HomeNewsBriefIs Europe's Cocaine Market Becoming Saturated?
BRIEF

Is Europe's Cocaine Market Becoming Saturated?

COCAINE / 5 JUN 2015 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

A new report on European drug markets suggests a significant decline in cocaine use among the continent's principal consumer countries, which could have consequences for drug trafficking organizations in Latin America. 

Cocaine consumption fell considerably between 2008 and 2013 in many of the European countries with the biggest demand for the illicit drug, according to the annual European Drug Report (pdf), published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

The prevalence of cocaine use among young adults (ages 15-34) in Spain dropped from roughly 5.5 percent in 2008 to just over 3 percent in 2013, according to the report. The United Kingdom (UK) also experienced a fall in consumption during that same period from over 6 percent to slightly more than 4 percent. 

France is the only selected European country that bucked the downward trend, and has seen steadily increasing cocaine usage since the early 2000s. 

Overall trends also indicate the purity of cocaine found in Europe has risen, while prices have fallen slightly, according to the report.

European authorities seized about 63 tons of cocaine in 2013, with Spain accounting for roughly 40 percent of that figure. Cocaine seizures in Europe have remained relatively stable since 2010, the report states.

InSight Crime Analysis

The overall decrease in cocaine consumption in prominent European user nations, along with the increasing purity and declining price of the illicit drug, indicates consumer markets on the continent may be contracting, or at least heading in that direction. This trend would reverse the long-standing expansion of consumer markets for cocaine on the continent. 

A significant decrease in cocaine consumption would likely negatively impact transnational drug trafficking groups based in Latin America. Colombian criminal organizations have responded to Mexican dominance of a saturated US consumer market and higher wholesale prices for cocaine in Europe by taking on a bigger role in the illicit drug trade in Spain. Sources within the Spanish police have told InSight Crime Colombian criminal groups now control cocaine trafficking in the country. 

Several European law enforcement agencies have also noted the growing presence of Mexican drug cartels in Spain and various other parts of the continent

SEE ALSO: Coverage of European Organized Crime

But reduced prices and demand for cocaine in Europe would mean less profits for Mexican and Colombian drug trafficking groups operating there. Under this scenario, these groups may consider migrating some of their operations to what appears to be growing cocaine markets in Eastern Europe. However, changing underworld dynamics may complicate matters. The 2014 European Drug Report stated criminal organizations in Eastern Europe have taken advantage of the fragmentation of Mexican and Colombian organized crime by assuming a more prominent role in the region's illicit drug trade.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CLAN ROTELA / 25 FEB 2021

Misiones does not play an important role in regional criminal dynamics, despite some marijuana trafficking in the department.

COLOMBIA / 2 JUN 2020

The decision to send US troops into Colombia to help against drug trafficking is a troubling one, whether as part…

COLOMBIA / 2 MAY 2013

The arrest of a former paramilitary leader who wielded significant power along the Caribbean coast could open the way for…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…