THE HAGUE, April 19 (Reuters) – The number of cross-border drug trafficking cases referred to the European agency for prosecutorial cooperation nearly doubled in four years to 562 in 2020, partly driven by a huge increase in the production of synthetic drugs, the agency said.
In a report published on Monday Eurojust said drug trafficking in the European Union alone has an estimated value of 30 billion euros ($36 billion) annually.The rapid rise of production of synthetic drugs such as methamphetamines and their sale via online market places on the darknet market poses a big challenge to prosecutors across the European Union.
“By rapidly changing the composition of chemicals used for these drugs … or creating new substances, producers try to exploit legal gaps and avoid prosecution,” Eurojust said in a statement.
According to the report by the European prosecutor’s body, the total number of cases involving cross-border drug trafficking nearly doubled to 562 from 279 between 2016 and 2020.Synthetic and darknet market list other new drugs made up almost one-third of them.
The Eurojust report said producers of new psychoactive drugs often don’t work in old-fashion hierarchical drug trafficking networks and sale and distribution are done online.
“This phenomenon has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with organised crime groups adapting quickly to an online environment, using secured communication channels, crypto-phones, cryptocurrencies and darknet markets,” Eurojust said.
($1 = 0.8317 euros) (Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)