Irish Daily Mail

World cocaine supply at record high

- Mail Foreign Service

GLOBAL cocaine production has hit a record high due to a surge in demand following an initial slump at the start of the Covid pandemic.

Coca cultivatio­n rose by 35% between 2020 and 2021, according to a UN Office on Drugs and Crime report.

The largest markets were in Europe and North America, followed by South and Central America and the Caribbean.

The report said that although population growth can ‘partly’ explain the increase in demand, there was also ‘a rising prevalence of cocaine use’. There has also been a ‘significan­t increase’ in the amount of the Class A drug being seized in ‘fast parcel and postal modes’.

The findings indicate that new traffickin­g hubs have emerged in West and Central Africa. The Global Report on Cocaine attributed the rise in production to an expansion in cultivatio­n of the coca bush, along with improvemen­ts in converting coca into the Class A powder.

While Africa and Asia’s markets are ‘still limited’, Ghada Waly of the UN said expansion was a dangerous reality.

The drug markets were disrupted during the pandemic due to internatio­nal travel being cut, the findings suggest. Demand also dropped sharply due to the closure of nightclubs and bars.

However, the use of parcel and courier services rose significan­tly due to the drop-off in flights.

But the report added: ‘The most recent data suggests this slump has had little impact on longer-term trends. The global supply of cocaine is at record levels.’

It also found an upward trend in the use of crack cocaine in some Western European countries, most notably in Belgium, France and Spain.

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