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Drug wars New report shows fourfold increase in analyses of cocaine seizures in Ireland

The content of cocaine in these samples has remained broadly consistent over this time period with a steady increase at street level

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Suspected cocaine seized in Cork earlier this year

Suspected cocaine seized in Cork earlier this year

Suspected cocaine seized in Cork earlier this year

There has been a fourfold increase in analyses of cocaine seizures in Ireland between 2018 and 2019, a new report reveals. 

A complementary report from the Health Research Board (HRB) shows how the content of cocaine in these samples has remained broadly consistent over this time period with a steady increase at street level.

The HRB report has also revealed parallels between what is happening in this country and the rest of the continent when compared to the latest EMCDDA European Drug Report.

The EMCDDA reports shows Europe experienced record cocaine seizures in recent years, with 213 tonnes seized in 2019.

According to the HRB report: "Forensic Science Ireland analysis of seizures containing cocaine in the period 2016–2019 shows the content of cocaine in these samples has remained broadly consistent over this time period with a steady increase at street level. This is consistent with European data and the observed increase in the supply of cocaine in Europe."

The EMCDDA report also warns of higher potency cannabis with elevated THC levels, while in Ireland, the HRB report says cannabis herb has been shown to be the most prominent drug seized here since 2010.

There has also been large seizures of chemicals used in the production process of amphetamine to cater for demand in Europe, while in Ireland the FSI recorded an approximate threefold increase in 2019.

The European report also revealed how "very high levels" of MDMA are also being detected while in Ireland, data shows that the number of MDMA analyses in 2019 was more than three times higher than in 2018.

In Europe, large volumes of heroin are still being seized, while the HRB report found that between 2016 and 2018, 83 diamorphine (heroin) seizures were quantified by FSI, of which 33 seizures were classified as street-level substances and 50 seizures were classified as importation-level substances.

Overall, an estimated 1.5 million drug law offences were reported in the EU in 2019 and 82% were related to use or possession for personal use.

Here, Central Statistics Office figures show the number of drug offences recorded has increased annually since 2016, with an increase of 17% between 2018 (18,296 offences) and 2019 (21,448 offences).

According to the EMCDDA report, some 1.1 million seizures were reported in 2019 in Europe, with cannabis products the most often seized.

However, while some of the Irish data contained in the larger European-wide report is four or more years old, it dies suggest that Ireland has one of the lowest death rates from drugs among those aged under 30.Frank Feighan, Minister of State for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy, said: "The issue of drugs affects people, and the communities in which they live, in a wide variety of ways.

"These problems cannot be tackled in isolation, which is why the EU Drugs Strategy will be critical in the coming years in providing the tools to address these issues collectively.

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"The European Drug Report illustrates to us that the patterns of drug use are becoming more complex."

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