European Union - 6-21-11

(Cocaine Smuggling Routes and Transshipment Countries) "Increasing amounts of Latin American cocaine are now also being sent to Europe (see Figure 2.2). Most consignments are smuggled in container vessels and dispatched directly to ports in Spain (Barcelona), Portugal (Lisbon), the Netherlands (Rotterdam), and Belgium (Antwerp).9 The growing emphasis on Europe reflects higher street prices than those in the United States10 (see Table 2.4) and shifting consumer demand patterns toward this particular narcotic (and derivates, such as crack).11 Based on prevalence rates in 2008, the United States accounted for roughly 44 percent of global cocaine consumption, Europe 25 percent. In the latter case, the UK constitutes the largest cocaine market on the continent in absolute terms, with usage among the general population standing at 1.2 million in 2009.12
"The more-common route, however, runs via hubs in West Africa, especially Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Ghana, Mali, and Senegal (see Figure 2.3). All of these countries have weak judicial institutions, lack the resources for effective (or, indeed, even rudimentary) coastal surveillance, and are beset by endemic corruption—making them ideal transshipment hubs for moving narcotics out of Latin America.13 According to U.S. officials, between 25 and 35 percent of all Andean cocaine consumed in Europe arrives from one of these states.14 A 2008 report by UNODC similarly estimated that at least 50 tons of Colombian drugs pass through West Africa every year, with cocaine seizures doubling annually from 1.32 tons in 2005 to 3.16 tons in 2006 to 6.46 tons in 2007.15 In the words of Antonio María Costa, the former executive director of UNODC, the illicit trade has become so endemic that it has now effectively turned “the Gold Coast into the Coke Coast.”16"


Chalk, Peter, "The Latin American Drug Trade: Scope, Dimensions, Impact, and Response," RAND Corporation for the the United States Air Force (Santa Monica, CA: 2011), pp. 6-9.