Page last updated at 00:06 GMT, Thursday, 19 February 2009

Cocaine price 'set to fall more'

Line of cocaine and razor blade - file photo
The price of cocaine has plunged in recent years

The price of cocaine in Europe is set to fall even further as smugglers use new routes through West Africa and the Balkans, says the UN anti-drugs agency.

In its latest report, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), said West Africa has become a "major hub" for South American cocaine smuggling.

UK officials said last week that the price of cocaine had fallen by half in the last 10 years.

The INCB said prices would continue to fall unless the supply was curtailed.

INCB President Hamid Ghodse said more needed to be done to intercept shipments of cocaine and other drugs.

"The route of transporting for traffickers has become relatively easier and less susceptible to interdiction," he said.

'Cocaine stockpiles'

The INCB's annual report says South America's main producers of cocaine - in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia - were switching their smuggling routes from the Caribbean and the North Atlantic to avoid US and British naval patrols.


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The smugglers are targeting countries with "weak governmental structures that have limited capacity to defend themselves against drug trafficking and its consequences, such as corruption and drug abuse", the INCB warns.

The Balkans - traditionally used to smuggle heroin from Afghanistan and Central Asia into western Europe - are now increasingly being used as a supply line to bring cocaine into Europe.

Stockpiles of cocaine are being built up in West Africa from where it is smuggled into Europe, either directly or via the Balkans, the report says.

The INCB also reports:

  • Criminal gangs are posing as fictitious companies to obtain the chemicals needed to manufacture illicit drugs such as amphetamines and ecstasy
  • Canada has become a primary source of ecstasy for North America and a significant supplier for Asia
  • Poppy cultivation has shrunk in Afghanistan but the country still produces more than 90% of the world's opium
  • Illegal online pharmacies are selling pharmaceutical drugs - or counterfeit versions - without prescription.

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