| 0.2°C Dublin

lethal business Crime gangs turn over €110 billion a year through drugs trade, Europol claim


Cash seized by Europol

Cash seized by Europol

Cash seized by Europol

CRIME gangs are turning over a massive €110 billion year trafficking and selling drugs in Europe every year.

But deaths as a result of the underworld trade have also reached an all-time high, according to research revealed at the Drugs in Europe conference this week.

In just one example cited, a Europol supported investigation saw the break-up of a gang that was shipping 45 tonnes of cocaine every year with annual profits of €200 million.

“Recent intelligence indicates significant changes in trends of cocaine-related trafficking, with the EU becoming the leading destination,” said a Europol spokesperson.

“Drug trafficking is the cornerstone of the criminal activities of these high-risk organised crime groups and neither the Covid-19 pandemic nor related restrictions have had a decreasing impact on their activities.”

Europol's Executive Director Catherine De Bolle told the conference: “The fight against drug trafficking is one of the top crime priorities in the European Union.”

The current activity by European criminal gangs was described as “unprecedented” as both the types of drugs and number of seizures are increasing.

Crime bosses are also successful in keeping hold of their ill-gotten gains.

“Despite comprehensive money laundering legislation in EU Member States, asset-tracing results in terms of confiscations remain at an extremely low level,” warned a spokesperson.

“Of the billions of euros generated by the illicit drug trade in Europe, a low percentage is confiscated and more needs to be done to address this situation,” it was added.

Profits from drug trafficking are estimated to be €110 billion a year “at least.”

Deaths from drug use are at an all time high in Europe and this situation looks set to worsen as drug purities increase and different substances reach the market.

“Europol sees an increase in the number and quality of violent attacks associated with organised crime and, in particular, drug trafficking in the EU over recent months.”

“Contract killings, shootings, bombings and stabbings are used by drug traffickers to intimidate associates, remove competitors and threaten officials and the public,” according to a Europol statement.

There was also a warning that corruption which allows criminal gangs to operate has to be targeted.

“Drug trafficking is an entire criminal industry that largely relies on corruption to function. Eliminating corruption will go a long way in reducing the supply of drugs in the EU.”

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Online Editors