Traffickers have devised new ways to distribute drug stocks, according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
According to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The spike in cocaine production is the biggest increase since 2016 and is part of efforts by powerful South American drug cartels to streamline the efficiency of drug labs.
“The pandemic has been a bit of a blow to the expansion of cocaine production,” noted UNODC researcher Antoine Vella in comments published by The Guardian. He added that since “bounced” at higher levels than before Covid-19. Demand has plummeted in recent years due to the closure of many bars and nightclubs during lockdowns, the report explains.
The findings suggest that the cartels were forced to devise alternative methods of distributing the drug during the pandemic after many international flights were grounded and road traffic was tightly controlled, forcing them to stockpile the drugs.
Various drug seizures showed that the traffickers tried to conceal the cocaine in the distribution of everyday items such as indoor avocados and even surgical masks. One case, officials said, even saw traffickers breaking down the substance into tissue to circumvent authorities before being reconstituted at its final destination.
The report adds that British officials noted a “a significant increase” in the seizure of cocaine delivered through international postal systems as well as courier services.
“There is no doubt that there is no limit to the ingenuity of traffickers”, Vella said they were looking to maintain supplies from Europe and North America, regions jointly responsible for three-quarters of global cocaine use.
The cartels have also established new routes for drug trafficking and distribution as they seek to avoid the scrutiny of anti-narcotics agents, especially in developing markets in Asia and Africa, according to The report. Ports such as Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg have grown in importance for the importation of the narcotic, compared to traditional entry points into Europe in Spain and Portugal.
Global demand for the drug has also led to an increase in coca cultivation and production in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia – where, in the latter, the area of land used to produce coca bushes has increased by 40 % in 2021 to reach a total of 204,000 hectares.
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