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Europeans spend 24 billion euros on narcotics each year: Report

  • >> Reuters
    Published: 2016-04-05 21:04:41 BdST

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An armed crew member of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton keeps watch as more than 66,000 pounds of cocaine worth $1.01 billion wholesale that was seized in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is unloaded upon arrival in San Diego, California August 10, 2015. Reuters

European Union citizens spend some 24 billion euros ($27.28 billion) on illicit drugs every year, a report said on Tuesday, making it one of the continent's most profitable activities for organised crime groups.

The report, drawn up by Europol and European Union drugs monitoring centre EMCDDA, said the advent of new technology such as encrypted networks and digital currencies had opened a new market for the online supply of drugs.

"Illicit drug production and trafficking remains one of the largest and most innovative criminal markets in Europe," Europol Director Rob Wainwright said in a statement.

While technological advances were made, organised crime groups also sought out new routes to smuggle drugs into Europe, the report added, such as heroin increasingly being shipped through the southern Caucasus.

Europol's Wainwright added that cooperation between member states was needed to address the problem, also because criminal networks involved in the drug trade often branched out into other areas of crime.

"Concerted cross-border law enforcement cooperation is essential in reducing its scale and impact," he said.