Global cocaine supplies at ‘record high’: UN report

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Global cocaine supplies are at a record high, according to a report by the United Nations released on Thursday.

“Seizures [of cocaine] are rising globally, and various indications show increasinged use in several regions,” the report said, adding that all the information points to an “overall expanding market.”

According to the report, the cultivation of the coca bush, from which the narcotic drug is produced, stood at just over 300,000 hectares in 2021, up by almost 100,000 hectares compared to the previous year.

A record amount of almost 2,000 tons of the drug was seized in the same year, up from just over 1,400 the year before.

Almost 2,000 tons was produced in 2020, continuing a dramatic uptick in manufacture that began in 2014, when the total was less than half of today’s levels.

The report says that the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the drugs’ markets, with international travel mostly suspended and a lot of bars and nightclubs closed to stem the spread of the virus.

“However, the most recent data suggests this slump has had little impact on longer-term trends,” the report said.

During the pandemic, the trend of cocaine being mailed to people became more prominent as people could not fly. In Costa Rica, smaller quantities of the drug were being mailed to Asia, Africa and Europe concealed in goods such as books, religious images, and vehicle spare parts, the report said.

Seizure data also suggests that the role of Africa, especially West and Central Africa, as a transit zone for cocaine on its way to markets in Europe has picked up substantially since 2019.

Both the total quantity seized in Africa and the number of large seizures appear to have reached record levels during 2021, according to preliminary data, the report said.

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