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Niederlande. Booby trap scuppers police raid on Dutch floating crystal meth lab 

Forensic experts were forced off cargo ship when it suddenly began taking on water. (The Guardian, UK, 13.05.2019)

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/13/netherlands-police-raid-cargo-ship-crystal-meth-lab-moerdijk

Wall Street Market: Ermittler stoppen weltweit zweitgrößten Darknet-Markt 

Kokain, Cannabis, gefälschte Ausweise oder ausgespähte Daten: Das BKA hat die Betreiber des Wall Street Market festgenommen und die Server beschlagnahmt. (Zeit Online, 03.04.2019)

https://www.zeit.de/digital/2019-05/wall-street-market-darknet-bundeskriminalamt-festnahmen

Russland. Half of Russia’s Alcohol Sold Illegally, Regulators Say

Almost half of the alcohol products sold in Russia last year were on the market illegally, the state Federal Alcohol Market Regulation Service (Rosalkogolregulirovanie) said this week. (Moscow Times, Russland, 19.04.2019)

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/04/19/half-of-russias-alcohol-sold-illegally-regulators-say-a65312

Mexiko/China/USA/Kanada. No More Opium for the Masses

This report analyzes the socio-political effects of U.S. fentanyl use on the opium and heroin economy in Mexico. (NORIA – Network of Researchers in International Affairs, 10.02.2019)

https://www.noria-research.com/no-more-opium-for-the-masses/

Modeling cocaine traffickers and counterdrug interdiction forces as a complex adaptive system

Nicholas R. Magliocca, Kendra McSweeney, Steven E. Sesnie, Elizabeth Tellman, Jennifer A. Devine, Erik A. Nielsen, Zoe Pearson, David J. Wrathall

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Apr 2019, 201812459; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1812459116 

https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/03/26/1812459116

USA. ‘NarcoLogic’ computer model shows unintended consequences of cocaine interdiction 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Efforts to curtail the flow of cocaine into the United States from South America have made drug trafficking operations more widespread and harder to eradicate, according to new research published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (Oregon State University, USA, 02.04.2019)

https://today.oregonstate.edu/news/%E2%80%98narcologic%E2%80%99-computer-model-shows-unintended-consequences-cocaine-interdiction

USA/Kanada. Can legal weed ever beat the black market?

Even in Canada and some US states where marijuana is legal, the illegal market remains a tenacious competitor. (The Guardian, UK, 18.03.2019)

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/17/legal-weed-black-market-california-gavin-newsom

Italien/Mexiko. Tale of two drugs lords: from Cosa Nostra to Guzmán – it’s strictly business 

With the end of the El Chapo trial, Ed Vulliamy charts the lives of two dons a continent apart. (The Guardian, UK, 17.02.2019)

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/17/tale-two-drug-lords-el-chapo-guzman-salvatore-riina-mexico-italy

Mexiko/USA. After El Chapo conviction, Sinaloa drug cartel carries on

MEXICO CITY — Despite the arrest, extradition and now conviction of narco-lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, his Sinaloa cartel marches on. (PBS, USA, 12.02.2019)

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/after-el-chapo-conviction-sinaloa-drug-cartel-carries-on

Mexiko/USA. Urteil im „El Chapo“-Prozess : „Eine Show, um Amerikas Können und Macht zu demonstrieren“

Der mexikanische Drogenboss „El Chapo“ soll für den Rest seines Lebens im Gefängnis sitzen. Die amerikanische Regierung feiert sich für den Schuldspruch. Doch was bedeute das Urteil für den internationalen Drogenhandel? (faz.net, 13.02.2019)

https://www.faz.net/aktuell/gesellschaft/kriminalitaet/usa-feiert-el-chapo-urteil-als-schlag-gegen-drogen-16038539.html

Why Europe Has Dodged America's Fentanyl Crisis

Europe's most lucrative heroin markets seem ripe for a fentanyl takeover. But why the no-show? (Vice, UK, 07.02.2019)

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/9kpkb5/why-europe-has-dodged-americas-fentanyl-crisis

Schweiz. Fazit. ForschungsSpiegel von Sucht Schweiz: Was Sie schon immer über den illegalen Drogenmarkt wissen wollten. 

Wie sieht der Markt für illegale Substanzen in der Schweiz aus? Wieviel Heroin wird konsumiert und was kostet es? Wie und wo kann der Stoff gekauft werden? Wie rein ist Heroin resp. wie oft wird es gestreckt? Und womit? In welcher Form wird das Heroin verkauft und wer kontrolliert den Heroinmarkt in der Schweiz? Wieviel kann in diesem Markt umgesetzt und verdient werden? Auf diese und weitere Fragen liefert MARSTUP – eine Studie zum Markt von illegalen Substanzen im Kanton Waadt – zum Teil erstaunliche Antworten. Es handelt sich um die erste interdisziplinäre Studie dieser Art in der Schweiz. (SUCHTMAGAZIN, 05/2018, Schweiz)

https://shop.addictionsuisse.ch/download/9682310932a769dda3f96bb9832db690048461d4.pdf

USA. “Exhilarating”—The Life of a Career Drug Dealer Illustrates Hard Truths

Casper has lived a life out straight out of Pulp Fiction. Over a 26-year career selling illicit drugs across the United States, he has gone from peddling nickel bags of heroin on street corners to running interstate trafficking networks, then back to scraping quarters for the bus fare. Since the age of 15 he has used and sold drugs, battled a heroin addiction, held up police at gunpoint, lived destitute in cheap motels, and bought BMWs in cash. (Filter Magazine, USA, 30.01.2019)

https://filtermag.org/2019/01/30/exhilarating-career-drug-dealer-legalization/

Spanien. Spanish police say drugs gang used drones to spy on officers 

Smugglers monitored for possible police presence as hashish shipments approached. (The Guardian, UK, 28.01.2019)

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/28/spanish-drug-smugglers-who-used-drones-to-spy-on-police-are-arrested

Venezuela/Trinidad. Venezuelan pirates - the new scourge of the Caribbean

As Venezuela's economy collapses, a tide of lawlessness is spreading to the nearby island of Trinidad. Its fishermen now live in fear of Venezuelan pirates, discovers Colin Freeman, while Venezuelan smugglers exchange drugs and guns for basic necessities. (BBC, 28.01.2019)

https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-47003108

Neu: Journal of Illicit Economies and Development (JIED), Volume 1 - Issue 1 – 2018 (open access)

Harausgeber: International Drug Policy Unit US Centre, London School of Economics, London, UK

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

Afrika. UN: Crime and Drugs in West and Central Africa ‘alarming’ 

West Africa is facing increased trafficking in opioids, cocaine and methamphetamine, the profits of which often go to armed terrorist groups, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported Wednesday. (OCCRP - Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, USA, 21.12.2018)

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/9056-un-crime-and-drugs-in-west-and-central-africa-alarming

Afghanistan: How does the Taliban make money?

(...) The Taliban, the main insurgent group in Afghanistan with an estimated 60,000 fighters, now controls more territory in Afghanistan than at any point since its removal from power by the US-led coalition in 2001.

(...) Maintaining this level of insurgency requires a great deal of funding, from sources both within and outside the country.

So how does the Taliban support itself? (BBC, 22.12.2018)

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-46554097

Studie Cannabis-Produkte werden immer stärker 

Der THC-Gehalt von Haschisch und Marihuana hat in den letzten Jahren drastisch zugenommen - bei gleichbleibendem Preis. Das birgt erhebliche gesundheitliche Risiken. (Spiegel online, 30.12.2018)

http://www.spiegel.de/gesundheit/diagnose/cannabis-studie-die-potenz-von-haschisch-steigt-und-damit-das-gesundheitsrisiko-a-1245899.html

Increasing potency and price of cannabis in Europe, 2006-2016

Tom P. Freeman, Teodora Groshkova, Andrew Cunningham, Roumen Sedefov, Paul Griffiths, Michael T. Lynksey

Addiction, First published: 29 December 2018, doi.org/10.1111/add.14525

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/add.14525

Paraguay. How Paraguay dumps billions of illicit cigarettes on the global market

On Sep. 25, 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products entered into force. According to the WHO, illicit trade refers to “any practice or conduct prohibited by law and which relates to production, shipment, receipt, possession, distribution, sale or purchase, including any practice or conduct intended to facilitate such activity.”

Most research on the illicit tobacco trade so far has focused on the role of transnational tobacco companies. As the WHO Protocol is implemented, far more attention needs to be paid to how the illicit tobacco trade is evolving. (The Conversation, 16.12.2018)

https://theconversation.com/how-paraguay-dumps-billions-of-illicit-cigarettes-on-the-global-market-107679

Europa. Recent changes in Europe’s cocaine market: results from an EMCDDA trendspotter study

Summary

Using trendspotter methodology, this report explores signs of increasing availability and consumption of cocaine in Europe, in an effort to increase our understanding of recent changes in the cocaine market. The study investigates the consequences of these developments on acute health harms linked to cocaine and crack use and reviews the current public health responses to problems related to these drugs. (EMCDDA, Lissabon, Dezember 2018, DOI: 10.2810/801683)

http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/rapid-communications/recent-changes-in-europes-cocaine-market_en

Europa. New gangs 'Uberise' Europe's cocaine supply and bring more violence 

Rising production from Latin America has led groups from North Africa and the Balkans to change the drug trade, EU agency says. (Guardian, UK, 14.12.2018)

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/dec/14/new-gangs-uberise-europes-cocaine-supply-and-bring-more-violence

USA. Drug wholesalers drove fentanyl's deadly rise, study shows -- Cheap, plentiful drug entered wholesale markets following heroin supply shocks

Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid implicated in nearly 29,000 overdose deaths in the United States last year, most likely spread because of heroin and prescription pill shortages, and also because it was cheaper for drug wholesalers than heroin, according to a report on illicit US drug markets. (University of California - San Francisco, 05.12.2018)

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181205093801.htm

Inside the Mafia-Run Cocaine Network Shattered by European Police

A two-year investigation culminated this week with 90 arrests, splitting wide open a mafia coalition that trafficked drugs to Europe from across the world. Here’s how the clans ran it. (OCCRP - Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, USA, 06.12.2018)

https://www.occrp.org/en/37-ccblog/ccblog/9010-inside-the-mafia-run-cocaine-network-shattered-by-european-police

USA. US: Bar Owner ‘Mama Jo,’ 70, Charged With Running Million-Dollar Fencing Ring 

Police in Michigan broke up a long-running fencing operation that allegedly paid heroin addicts to steal goods ranging from guns and liquor to ceiling fans and energy drinks, Detroit’s local media reported Monday. (OCCRP - Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, USA, 04.12.2018)

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/8998-us-bar-owner-mama-jo-70-charged-with-running-million-dollar-fencing-ring

USA. Drug wholesalers drove fentanyl's deadly rise, report concludes

Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid implicated in nearly 29,000 overdose deaths in the United States last year, most likely spread because of heroin and prescription pill shortages, and also because it was cheaper for drug wholesalers than heroin, according to a report on illicit US drug markets by researchers at UC San Francisco. 

First synthesized in a Belgian lab in 1960, illicitly produced fentanyl has swept through U.S. drug markets in waves, the latest beginning in 2013, and has claimed an extraordinary number of lives. The researchers who wrote the report said having a better understanding of whether fentanyl's deadly spread is being driven by the economic imperatives of suppliers or the tastes of drug users would help policymakers find ways to curb it.

Made entirely in the lab, fentanyl is far more powerful and much cheaper to produce than heroin, which is derived from poppy opium. It is usually sold deceptively—as heroin or brand name prescription drugs like OxyContin and Xanax. The researchers said drug users and street-level dealers, who may also be using the drugs, often don't know whether they are taking or selling drugs adulterated with fentanyl, since it is added to the supply higher up the distribution chain. Therefore, the researchers said, demand from drug users is unlikely to have played a role in its spread. (University of California, San Francisco, 04.12.2018)

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-12-drug-wholesalers-drove-fentanyl-deadly.html

Lesotho. Marijuana, mountains and money: How Lesotho is cashing in

Lesotho is aiming to make money from the booming medicinal marijuana industry, but the BBC's Vumani Mkhize says the southern African nation already has an unheralded illicit trade in the drug for recreational use. (BBC, 28.11.2018)

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-46288374

DIE KOSTEN DER CANNABIS-PROHIBITION IN DEUTSCHLAND – Eine Studie im Auftrag des Deutschen Hanfverbands

14. November 2018

Prof. Dr. Justus Haucap, Dr. Christiane Kehder, Marc Feist und Jan Slowik

DICE Consult GmbH, Düsseldorf, 2018

https://hanfverband.de/sites/hanfverband.de/files/cannabis_final-141118.pdf

Mexiko. Mexico: Drug Trade Flourishes While Criminals Hurt Economy 

While Mexico’s drug traders make over US$31 billion per year, the country’s legitimate economy is taking a toll from being targeted by criminal groups, according to new reports released Monday. (OCCRP - Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, USA, 13.11.2018)

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/8896-mexico-drug-trade-flourishes-while-criminals-hurt-economy