Europe is growing market for illegal cocaine use

Cocaine use continues to surge in Europe, the top United Nations anti-drugs official warned Tuesday, outlining what he called “the dramatic evolution of the international market” for the drug in the past decade.

Yury Fedotov, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, addressed a meeting of government ministers in Paris that aimed to enhance international efforts to counter transatlantic cocaine trafficking.

“Despite a declining market in North America, the use of cocaine continues to rise in Europe. In 1998, the U.S. cocaine market was four times higher than that of Europe,” he told the meeting.

“Since then, there has been a complete rebalancing with the value of Europe’s market now estimated to be worth some $33 billion, almost equivalent to that of the United States’ $37 billion.”

From market diversification and growing cocaine use in Europe, through to new delivery routes, Fedotov stressed that today’s cocaine market has become a global threat.

The anti-drugs agency estimates that global cocaine sales generated around $84 billion in profit in 2009 – a sum equivalent to or even exceeding the gross domestic product of many developing countries.

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