Page last updated at 14:04 GMT, Friday, 11 April 2008 15:04 UK

Strong euro behind cocaine flows

Cocaine seized in Peru
The euro has risen by almost 20% against the dollar in the past 12 months

The euro's strength against the dollar may explain a rise in the availability of cocaine in Europe and a decline in the US, a US anti-drugs official says.

John Walters, director of US national drug control policy, said the amount of cocaine seized at the US south-western borders had declined.

The price and the purity of cocaine in US have also fallen, he said.

Meanwhile, Europe has seen a huge increase in availability as traffickers take advantage of the exchange rate.

Speaking in Brussels, Mr Walters expressed concern about the rise in Colombian cocaine coming to Europe via Venezuela and West African.

"There have been speculations that the power and strength of the euro and the cost of cocaine here in Europe have been the reason here for the movement - it's more profitable and it's a better currency exchange," he said.

"There's no doubt that those forces are there."

The euro has risen by almost 20% against the dollar in the past 12 months to hit a record above $1.59. On Friday, the euro fetched $1.5825.

The euro has become an attractive currency for investors because of relatively high interest rates in the eurozone.

The US dollar, meanwhile, has suffered because of a number of factors including a slowing economy, low interest rates and problems from the credit crisis.

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