Social networks are replacing the dark web in the drug trade
In Europe, while control rules imposed as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic have been relaxed, drug use is increasing and will have reached pre-New Crown epidemic levels. Europe has a growing number of illicit substances, including synthetic substances, and Afghanistan is increasing poppy production.
The dark web drug market is declining and is being replaced by social networks and instant messaging communication programs. At the same time, the production of synthetic drugs in Europe is increasing: more and more of these drugs are being supplied in the EU and the consumption of cocaine, crack, amphetamines and methamphetamines has increased in some European cities between 2020 and 2021.
These are some of the points made in the European Drugs Report 2022: Trends and Evolution, a document that warns of the need to increase uncertainty about the impact that the current war in Ukraine will have on the "world" in this increasingly complex scenario of drug consumption, production and distribution on the European continent, with a focus on treatment or in need of treatment for drug users in Ukraine.
In the recently released 60-page European Drug Report 2022: Trends and Evolution, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) paints a picture of every drug available in Europe (age of users, highest and average price on the market, average consumption, mortality, treatment, etc.) and leaves some warning messages.
For example, it is estimated that 83.5 million people in the EU - 29% of adults (15 to 64 years old) - have used illicit drugs at least once, with men (5.5 million) reporting higher rates of use than women (30 million).
As for the most chosen narcotic, this continues to be cannabis (22 million adults said they had used it in the last year), followed by stimulants.
In its analysis of consumption trends over the past year, the EMCDDA document highlights the fact that drug use has increased as restrictions triggered by the global Covid-19 epidemic have eased worldwide, and is now on par with the period before the New Crown epidemic.
The Decline of the Dark Web
One of the new issues raised in the report concerns changes in the trafficking market. According to the data provided, the dark web will lose its "power", which can be explained by the actions of the authorities, the presence of fraud related to trafficking, and even problems related to drug delivery.
To be sure, the estimates of the authorities point out that by the end of 2021, the revenue of the "drug business" on the dark web has fallen from 1 million euros per day in 2020 to 30,000 euros per day.
According to the analysis provided, it is social networks and instant messengers that are "taking advantage" of this decline, which could be "a safer and more convenient source of supply".
The market is operating at such a pace that the Observatory draws attention to the fact that every week a new psychoactive substance (NPS) appears - currently 880 monitored by the agency.
A new development mentioned in the document is that most of the synthetic canthaxone (stimulants derived from the plant Catha edulis) sold in Europe in 2020 originated in India. According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), a new production site could indicate that the market is adjusting to the controls imposed by each country, which could lead to problems with market supply.
In a statement accompanying the report, EMCDDA Director Alexis Goosdeel drew attention to the fact that "traditional drugs have never been more accessible and new powerful substances are constantly emerging. Currently, "almost anything that is psychoactive can be a drug, as the line between legal and illegal substances has blurred."
Much work to be done in rehabilitation and treatment
The paper draws attention to the failure of countries to meet the goal of increasing treatment and harm reduction services for people who inject drugs in Europe.
According to data provided in 2020, only the Czech Republic, Spain, Luxembourg and Norway pledged to meet the target set by the World Health Organization to "provide 200 syringes per year per drug user and to place 40 percent of high-risk opioid users on opioid agonist treatment, which is a protective factor against drug overdose ".
A problematic international situation
The paper takes a closer look at two countries and their situations: Afghanistan and Ukraine. First, the Observatory draws attention to the fact that poppy plantations still exist in that country, despite the fact that the production, sale and trafficking of illicit drugs have been banned since this year.
A problematic situation that could even have an impact on the country's financial situation, as the temptation to traffic cocaine to Europe in search of sources of income could arise as a response to the difficulties experienced.
Also in this country, bets are being detected for the production of methamphetamine, which may be the way to supply the European market, which is currently self-sufficient. This, coupled with the concern that it is taking place in areas with traditional heroin trafficking routes, puts the authorities on alert.
Regarding Ukraine, warnings point to the need to support the country's drug users seeking asylum in Europe as a result of the current war, as well as the need to provide them with support for stress care.
From：On DarkNet – Dark Web News and Analysis
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