Netherlands the main hub for cocaine smuggling in Europe: Europol
The Netherlands and Belgium are now the main hubs for cocaine smuggling in Europe, with both countries supplanting Spain as the main entry point for the drug, European police organization Europol said in a report. "The epicenter of the cocaine market in Europe has moved north," Europol said, AD reports.
Criminal organizations are taking advantage of the increased supply of cocaine and they're increasingly making use of containerized goods transport to bring the drug to the Netherlands through the ports of Rotterdam, Hamburg in Germany, and Antwerp in Belgium. The capacity of these major ports, and their vicinity to the Netherlands, "consolidated the role of the Netherlands as a transit zone." From the Netherlands, the drugs are transported all over Europe, according to the report.
The European cocaine market is doing well due to the growing supply of the drug. Europol attributed this to the "fragmentation of the criminal landscape in source countries". The peace agreement between the Marxist FARC guerrilla movement and the government in Colombia was specifically mentioned. Since this peace agreement, several groups emerged that are fighting for control of cocaine production in the country, the report said. European criminal organizations formed alliances with rival groups in Colombia, resulting in them no longer needing an intermediary and buying their cocaine direct from the source.
Cocaine is the second most used drug in Western- and Central Europe with an estimated 4.4 million users last year. Only cannabis had more users.