Surge in supply
The surge in the supply of cocaine in Europe has meant static prices for the drug, but its purity has been the highest recorded in a decade.
"Cocaine enters Europe through numerous routes and means, but the growth in large-volume trafficking, using maritime shipping containers, stands out as a major challenge," the report said.
Renewed supply, more smuggling gangs and higher disposable incomes are driving demand for cocaine.
Meanwhile, Dublin’s most senior Garda officer has warned that even low-level participation in the drug trade can end in murder.
Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy said that young men in the capital are being drawn into the drugs trade, following the jailing of Dublin-based Kinahan gang members.
“Low-level dealing now is enough to have your life taken at a young age. And we’ve seen it now, time and time again, across the city over the last number of years,” Leahy said.
There have been four drugs-related murders in Dublin this year. Zach Parker (23) was shot dead outside a gym in Swords on 17 January.
Pictured above is a shrine to the murdered man outside the gym where he was shot dead.
Sean Little (22) was shot dead off the M1 in north Co Dublin on 21 May, and his friend Jordan Davis (22) was shot dead outside a school in Darndale, north Dublin, on 22 May.
Hamid Sanambar (41), an Iranian national, was shot dead while out on bail on a robbery charge, at Kilbarron Avenue in Coolock, north Dublin, on 28 May.
All four are believed to have known each other through a Finglas-based drug gang.
Sanambar was granted political asylum in Ireland, which was never revoked despite his conviction for several crimes. It is suspected that he worked as a drugs-gang gunman.
The highest seizures of cocaine were in Belgium with 45 tonnes, where smugglers ship the drug through Antwerp, one of Europe's biggest ports. Spain was second with 41 tonnes, followed by France and the Netherlands.
The ‘dark net’ has a role in the smuggling of cocaine, with encrypted techniques in use to facilitate dealing.
Cocaine use is causing more health problems, with a 37% rise in people in the EU needing medical treatment between 2014 and 2017, the report said.
A total of 73,000 people needed specialised treatments for cocaine abuse in 2017, of which 11,000 were for crack cocaine.
Meanwhile, speaking this morning as 201 new members of An Garda Síochána made their attestation at the Garda Training College, Templemore, Co Tipperary, Minister Charlie Flanagan said that over half of new gardaí will be assigned to tackle gangland crime.
The minister said “Around 120 of the 201 new garda members passing out today will be assigned to divisions in Dublin. This includes 28 to the division that includes Coolock and 27 to the division that includes Blanchardstown.
“These newly attested members, who were already earmarked for these areas before the recent murders, will help strengthen the garda response to gang violence and increase public safety in their communities.
“Having visited Coolock Garda station and local communities on Tuesday morning, I know how welcome these new members will be. In addition, as previously promised, 30 of the new members are being assigned to Drogheda.”
Today’s attestation brings to 2,800 the number of new Gardaí that have attested and been assigned to frontline policing duties nationwide since the reopening of the garda college in 2014.
Overall garda numbers now stand at over 14,000 and a further 200 gardaí will attest later this year.
Minister Flanagan noted that Budget 2019 has provided a total budget of €1.76 billion to An Garda Síochána, an increase of €110 million on 2018.