Virtually any kind of illegal drug can be bought on the Internet and
delivered by post to users who no longer need to make direct contact
with dealers, an EU study published on Thursday said.
It gave no
statistics on online drug sales, which are normally conducted on
so-called "darknets", or anonymous computer networks.
compiled by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
(EMCDDA) and Europol, the pan-European police agency, said increased
globalisation and communication technology made it harder to track drug
"Practically any type of drug can be bought on the
Internet," Europol director Rob Wainwright told a briefing. "The
consumers may feel that it is 'cleaner' to buy drugs without any direct
contact with the drug dealer."
These drugs are being moved through
legitimate forms of commercial transportation containers, aircraft and
postal services, all making the drugs harder to intercept.
EMCDDA director Wolfgang Goetz said drug users' behaviour was also changing.
of drug use have become more fluid, with consumers often using multiple
substances or substituting one drug for another," Goetz said.
Northwest Europe a major concern
Wainwright said drug trafficking was the main activity of organised
crime groups, providing funding for other criminal activity.
report pinpointed northwest Europe Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and
northern France as an area where organised crime is high, partly
because of its many transport hubs, and Wainwright said the region's
status as a final destination for cocaine and heroin, as well as people
trafficking and illegal immigration, made it a major concern.
report recommended that the European Union work to target high-value
crime groups, develop intelligence on the geographic relocation of
potential criminals, interrupt money flows and create barriers to drug
sales on the Internet.
EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia
Malmstrom said ministers from the 27 member states would study the
report for possible policy changes and action across the European Union.
need to keep pace with these new developments and adapt our policies
and responses to this reality," Malmstrom said. "National measures,
however robust, will simply not be sufficient if implemented in
The European Union is an increasingly important
producer of synthetic drugs and cannabis, with mobile production units
making it easy for synthetic drugs to be concealed during manufacturing.
with synthetic drugs, there has been a trend towards producing the drug
near to its intended consumers," Goetz said. "This will be a growing
trend in the future."
The report estimated 2,500 tonnes of
cannabis are consumed each year in the European Union and Norway, with a
retail value of 18-30 billion euros.
Malmstrom said no European-wide legalisation of cannabis is on the Commission's agenda.
© Thomson Reuters 2013