World Drug Report: Cocaine Trafficking and Darknet Markets

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released the World Drug Report on June 22. Drug trends resembled those from the Global Drug Survey. Health issues as well. The World Drug Report highlighted additional changes to the drug landscape: global increases of coca bush cultivation.

Coca bush cultivation increased by 30 percent between 2015 and 2016. Given the increased demand for cocaine, the supply needed to expand in order to provide the quantities necessary. Although cocaine use dropped over the past few years, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said this may soon change.

According to their report, the two largest cocaine markets are North America and Europe. In North America, cocaine use fell for a period between 2006 and 2012 but it bounced back and started the uphill climb to the top. Since 2013, North America’s cocaine use increased steadily. Europe, suffered this problem to North America, according to World Drug Report.

Europe was also different, though. The general decline was apparent, but more drawn out than North America’s. Much of this came about as Europe received less cocaine from Colombia than North America; the majority of North America sourced from Colombia. Researchers speculated several possible reasons the increased demand after 2014. The globalization of organized crime groups likely sparked an increased demand, but not alone, the study explained. Also, the ability to merely produce more again, for countries like Colombia.

UNODC also said that “drug markets diversified” and changed business models for “drug trafficking and organised crime.” Organized crime groups, as a result of the changed markets, looked for new ways to profit. “Meanwhile, transnational organised crime groups across the globe were estimated to have generated between one-fifth and one-third of their revenues in 2014 from drug sales,” one writer explained.

Studies have routinely shown that darknet markets only grew more popular and attracted more attention after Ross Ulbricht went to prison. However, despite the growth, markets have yet to overtake anything. The UNODC wrote:

The darknet allows users to buy drugs with a crypto currency, such as bitcoin, and have their purchases delivered to them in a concealed manner.Typical buyers are recreational users of cannabis, “ecstasy,” cocaine, hallucinogens and NPS. They are less likely to order heroin or methamphetamine. Although the darknet accounts for only a small percentage of drug sales, the market has been growing by around 50 per cent per year in recent years.”

According to the UNODC research at the time of the interviews, cocaine sat in the list of the top three most purchased.

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