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A Shallow Flood: The Diffusion of Heroin in Eastern and Southern Africa

The flow of heroin from Asian production points to the coastal shores of eastern and southern Africa is not new. Whereas the first heroin transit routes in the region in the 1970s relied heavily on maritime transport to enter the continent, a number of transport modes and urban centres of the interior have increasingly become important features in the current movement of heroin in this region. Interior transit hubs and networks have developed around air transport nodes that use regular regional and international connections to ship heroin. As regional air routes proliferated and became more efficient, their utility and value for the heroin trade increased as well. Heroin is also consolidated and shipped over a frequently shifting network of overland routes, moving it deeper into the African interior in a south-westerly direction across the continent. (globalinitiative.net, Schweiz, 28.05.2020)

https://globalinitiative.net/heroin-east-southern-africa/

UNODC report on East and Southeast Asia: continued growth in the supply of methamphetamine while synthetic opioids spread

Bangkok (Thailand), 15 May 2020 – A new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warns that the synthetic drug market in East and Southeast Asia continues to expand and diversify, and the price of methamphetamine has dropped to the lowest level in a decade as the supply has surged. (UNODC)

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/press/releases/2020/May/unodc-report-on-east-and-southeast-asia_-continued-growth-in-the-supply-of-methamphetamine-while-synthetic-opioids-spread.html

UNODC. Synthetic Drugs in East and Southeast Asia – Latest Developments and Challenges

The report finds that the regional methamphetamine market continues to expand, with sustained increases in seizures, especially of crystalline methamphetamine, amidst falling prices.  It states that seizures of methamphetamine precursor chemicals are not proportionate with drug seizure trends, signaling difficulties in coping with increasing diversion, trafficking and illicit manufacture of key precursor chemicals. There are also recent signs of a consolidation of methamphetamine manufacture in the lower Mekong region, as organised crime groups adapt trafficking routes in response to law enforcement operations. The report also finds increased purities and use of “ecstasy”, increased identifications of synthetic NPS with opioid effects and a higher availability of ketamine in the region. 

While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on illicit drug supply in the region might be limited, the repercussions on demand and ongoing drug prevention and treatment programmes could be huge. The report calls for active monitoring and careful interpretation of drug-related trends to understand how the regional drug market evolves in the wake of the pandemic. (UNODC, Wien, Mai 2020)

https://www.unodc.org/documents/scientific/ATS/2020_ESEA_Regonal_Synthetic_Drug_Report_web.pdf

Malediven. Amid Covid-19, Rising Tide of Narcotics Trafficking from Pak Feeds Jihadist Upsurge in Indian Ocean

Islamic State cells in the Maldives, known to have close links with Indian Ocean drug cartels, have over the past eight weeks staged multiple attacks, including bomb strikes on police boats. (News18, Indien, 17.04.2020)

https://www.news18.com/news/india/in-midst-of-covid-19-a-rising-tide-of-narcotics-trafficking-from-pak-feeds-jihadist-upsurge-in-indian-ocean-2581659.html 

USA/Mexiko. Coronavirus Is Leading to Shortages of Fentanyl And Meth

The pandemic has slowed the production and export of chemicals from China to Mexico, for onward smuggling into the U.S. (Vice, USA, 19.03.2020)

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wxek4m/coronavirus-is-leading-to-shortages-of-fentanyl-and-meth

Indien/Afghanistan. Indian companies’ supply of heroin chemical helping fund Afghan Taliban: Narco body

NEW DELHI: In a severe indictment of lax drug enforcement laws in India, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has underlined the continued largescale illicit supply of acetic anhydride — a precursor chemical used for the manufacture of heroin — to Afghanistan drug lords. (Times of India, 29.02.2020)

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/incb-raises-concern-at-indian-firms-supplying-acetic-anhydride-to-afghan-drug-lords/articleshow/74418650.cms

Spanien. Workers found trapped in illegal tobacco factory in Spain

An illegal cigarette factory has been uncovered in Spain where six foreign workers were found gasping for air before being rescued, authorities said. 

Twelve British nationals suspected of running the factory were arrested.

The bunker under horse stables in the southern province of Malaga could produce up to 3,500 cigarettes an hour, according to Spain's Guardia Civil. (BBC, UK, 20.02.2020)

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51577694

Drogenmarkt Europa: 30 Milliarden Euro für illegale Drogen

So viel geben Konsumierende in der Europäischen Union jährlich für Cannabis, Kokain und andere illegale Drogen aus. Der Drogenhandel gilt als eine Haupteinnahmequelle der organisierten Kriminalität. Eine Analyse zeigt auf, wie Gewalt bis hin zu Mord mit dem illegalen Drogenhandel in Verbindung stehen. (drugcom.de, Topthema März 2020)

https://www.drugcom.de/topthema/30-milliarden-euro-fuer-illegale-drogen/

The Global SMART Update Vol. 23: “An expanding synthetic drugs market – Implications for precursor control”

UNODC 2020, Global SMART Programme, Vienna International Centre

https://www.unodc.org/documents/scientific/Global_SMART_23_final_web.pdf

Myanmar/Burma. Myanmar Opium Cultivation in Decline: UN Report

CHIANG MAI, Thailand—Opium cultivation in Myanmar decreased last year, continuing the downward trend that started in 2014 due in part to the continuing shift in the regional drug market towards synthetic drugs, according to a new UN survey. (The Irrawaddy, Myanmar/Burma, 04.02.2020)

https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-opium-cultivation-decline-un-report.html

Schweiz. Der Cannabis-Markt unter der Lupe

Ein interdisziplinäres Team von Forschenden von Sucht Schweiz, dem Institut für Kriminologie der Universität Lausanne und Unisanté hat den Betäubungsmittelmarkt im Kanton Waadt untersucht. Nach Heroin und Stimulanzien lag das Interesse dieses Mal bei Cannabis. Der Cannabis-Markt ist von allen Betäubungsmitteln der grösste, doch bleibt der Umsatz hinter demjenigen beim Kokain zurück. Der konsumierte Cannabis stammt aus unterschiedlichen Quellen und weist einen grossen Import-Anteil aus, wobei der einheimische Kleinanbau eine nicht zu unterschätzende Rolle spielt. Auf dem Markt finden sich neu auch Mischungen von illegalem und legalem (CBD-)Cannabis. Mehr als die Hälfte des konsumierten Cannabis geht auf stark Konsumierende zurück, die weniger als 10 Prozent der Benutzerinnen und Benutzer ausmachen.

https://www.suchtschweiz.ch/aktuell/medienmitteilungen/article/der-cannabis-markt-unter-der-lupe

UK. How a boy from Vietnam became a slave on a UK cannabis farm

It was a horrifying death for the 39 Vietnamese nationals found in the back of a trailer in an industrial park in Essex, in October last year. The story shone a light on the subterranean world of people smuggling and human trafficking, reports Cat McShane, specifically the thriving route between Vietnam and the UK. (BBC, 21.01.2020)

https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-51176958

Arzneimittelfälschungen lukrativer als Handel mit harten Drogen

Berlin – Auf das weltweite Problem des Handels mit gefälschten Arzneimitteln hat die ABDA – Bundesvereinigung Deutscher Apothekerverbände – hingewiesen. Danach ist wahrscheinlich jedes zweite Arzneimittel gefälscht, das über illegale Internetversender bezogen wird. (aerzteblatt.de, 17.01.2020)

https://www.aerzteblatt.de/nachrichten/108734/Arzneimittelfaelschungen-lukrativer-als-Handel-mit-harten-Drogen

Schweden. Drug gang violence in Sweden linked to 60% increase in bomb blasts 

Last year 257 bomb attacks were reported to police, up from 162 in 2018. (The Guardian, UK, 16.01.2020)

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/16/drug-gang-violence-in-sweden-linked-to-60-bomb-blasts-increase

Rethinking the “drug dealer”

Policymakers in the United States increasingly recognize that drug use should be treated as a public health issue instead of a criminal issue. Most, however, continue to support harsh criminal sentences for people who are involved with drug selling or distribution.

With more than 68,000 people in the United States dying from accidental drug overdoses in 2018 alone, many people are searching for someone to blame and pointing the finger at people who sell drugs. This is also consistent with decades of drug policies based on the assumption that people who sell or distribute drugs are responsible for causing drug use. 

Politicians of all stripes have argued that long sentences for drug sellers will reduce drug availability and make remaining drugs more expensive, driving down demand. But this is not how drug markets actually work. Research and history have shown that the vilification and criminalization of people who sell drugs does not reduce problematic drug use, reduce the availability of drugs, or keep people who use drugs safer.

 (DPA – Drug Policy Alliance, USA, 17.12.2019)

http://www.drugpolicy.org/drugsellers

UK. Levels of child criminal exploitation 'almost back to Victorian times' 

Exclusive: police chief says problem is at a high for modern era amid lack of youth facilities. (The Guardian, UK, 02.01.2020)

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jan/02/levels-child-criminal-exploitation-almost-back-to-victorian-times

China. Want OxyContin in China? Pain pill addicts get drugs online

China has some of the strictest regulation of opioids in the world, but OxyContin and other pain pills are sold illegally online by vendors that take advantage of China's major e-commerce and social media sites, including platforms run by tech giants Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu, the Associated Press found. (MedicalXpress, USA, 31.12.2019)

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-12-oxycontin-china-pain-pill-addicts.html

EMCDDA. Estimating the size of the main illicit retail drug markets in Europe: an update

This report includes estimates of the total size of the retail drug market in the European Union in 2017 for cannabis, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and MDMA. (EMCDDA, Lissabon, Dezember 2019)

http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/technical-reports/european-drug-markets-size-estimate_en

Russland. Schmuggel von Drogenersatzstoff  Zoll stellt 2400 Flaschen Methadon in Flugzeug aus Köln sicher

Der russische Zoll hat 2400 Flaschen mit dem Drogenersatzstoff Methadon in einer Maschine aus Köln sichergestellt. Die Kisten mit der falsch deklarierten Flüssigkeit sind auf dem Moskauer Flughafen Wnukowo beschlagnahmt worden. (Generalanzeiger, 17.12.2019)

https://www.general-anzeiger-bonn.de/region/koeln-und-rheinland/flugzeug-aus-koeln-bonn-russischer-zoll-stellt-2400-flaschen-methadon-sicher_aid-47880147

Journal of illicit economies - Volume 1 - Issue 3 - 2019

Open access; Hrsg.: LSE – London School of Economics, UK

https://jied.lse.ac.uk/3/volume/1/issue/3/

On the Frontiers of Development: Illicit Poppy and the Transformation of the Deserts of Southwest Afghanistan.

Mansfield, D., 2019. 

Journal of Illicit Economies and Development, 1(3), pp.330–345. doi.org/10.31389/jied.46

https://jied.lse.ac.uk/articles/10.31389/jied.46/

The Last Harvest? From the US Fentanyl Boom to the Mexican Opium Crisis.

Le Cour Grandmaison, R., Morris, N. and Smith, B., 2019. 

Journal of Illicit Economies and Development, 1(3), pp.312–329. doi.org/10.31389/jied.45

https://jied.lse.ac.uk/articles/10.31389/jied.45/

The DARK Side of Total Synthesis: Strategies and Tactics in Psychoactive Drug Production.

Chambers SA, DeSousa JM, Huseman ED, Townsend SD.

ACS Chem Neurosci. 2018 Oct 17;9(10):2307-2330. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.7b00528. Epub 2018 Feb 1. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6205722/

EMCDDA. Drug precursor developments in the European Union

Summary

This paper describes the significant developments that have occurred in the last 5 to 10 years in the field of drug precursors related to synthetic stimulant drugs produced in the EU. This includes describing the ‘pre-precursor’ phenomenon and responses to it, both by the EU and by the drug producers themselves. The developments are complex and of a deeply technical nature. This paper will be of particular interest to forensic chemists, investigators or those involved in drug precursor control. (EMCDDA, Lissabon, November 2019)

http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/emcdda-papers/drug-precursor-developments-eu_en

EMCDDA. Methamphetamine in Europe: EMCDDA-Europol threat assessment

Summary

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the methamphetamine market in the European Union. It assesses the current threat situation regarding current trends in production, trafficking and distribution. (EMCDDA, Europol, Lissabon, November 2019)

http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/joint-publications/methamphetamine-threat-assessment_en

EMCDDA. EU Drug Markets Report 2019 — highlights (Video)

The EU Drug Markets Report 2019 is the third comprehensive overview of illicit drug markets in the European Union by the EMCDDA and Europol. The analysis presented in this report spans numerous topics such as the links between drugs and other crimes, the licit economy and society more generally as well as the processes and players involved in the trade from production and trafficking to distribution. Taking an evidence-based approach, the report reviews the markets for heroin, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA and new psychoactive substances. It also provides action points to inform policy development at EU and national level. This publication is an essential reference for law enforcement professionals, policymakers, the academic community and indeed for anyone seeking up-to-date information and analysis on drug markets in Europe. (EMCDDA, Lissabon, 26.11.2019, Video, 03:53)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgOcnNhxsQA&feature=youtu.be

What Will the Opioid Crisis Look Like in Five Years?

Few people had ever heard of fentanyl five years ago. By 2018 this synthetic opioid was implicated in more than 30,000 fatal overdoses in the United States. The next stage of the fast-changing opioid crisis may well depend on how the illegal drug markets morph in the years to come. (RAND Corporation, USA, 18.11.2019)

https://www.rand.org/blog/2019/11/what-will-the-opioid-crisis-look-like-in-five-years.html

How money laundering works (Animation)

Following criminal cash from the streets of London to the gold markets of Dubai, BBC Panorama and the French media company Premières Lignes reveal how an international crime gang laundered millions in drug money.

This animation shows the extraordinary lengths the gang went to make their dirty drug money appear 'clean'. (BBC, 28.10.2019, Animation, 03:32)

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/stories-50123587/how-money-laundering-works

Afghanistan. The unknown unknowns of Afghanistan’s new wave of methamphetamine production

Recent years have seen a massive upswing in the production of ephedra and methamphetamine from the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan. (London School of Economic, 30.09.2019)

https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/2019/09/30/long-read-the-unknown-unknowns-of-afghanistans-new-wave-of-methamphetamine-production/

Süd Afrika. 'This is all we have. It’s how we raise our children', says small-scale dagga grower

(…) No one knows with confidence how many small-scale cannabis farmers there are in South Africa, but the number is large: one organisation estimates 900 000. 

Millions of people probably depend on income from cannabis. 

Here in Pondoland, these growers have been cultivating the plant for more than 200 years, with most of their harvest in more contemporary times bound for Cape Town townships and taxi ranks, as well as other South African cities.(News 24, RSA, 07.10.2019)

https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/pics-this-is-all-we-have-its-how-we-raise-our-children-says-small-scale-dagga-grower-20191007