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Changes in the international cocaine supply chain and a potential new alliance between Mexican drug cartels and illegal European laboratories could boost methamphetamine use in Europe.
According to an article by Conversation policy editor Laura Hood, published on Monday, other members of the amphetamine family have been used in Europe for years, both in medicine – methylphenidate in the treatment of attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity – such as as a recreational drug – “speed” .
Methamphetamine has intense effects and has a longer duration of action compared to other drugs. Also known as crystal or ice, regular use is likely to damage the brain or affect mental health. Its illicit production also has a high environmental cost, due to chemical waste.
According to Laura Hood, the use of methamphetamine in Europe has so far been quite limited. In England and Wales, for example, only 15,000 people reported using the drug in 2018-19. In contrast, 976,000 people reported using cocaine and about half a million ‘ecstasy’.
This reality is very different from that of the United States and Asia. In east and southeast Asia, the meth trade is estimated at $ 61 billion (about € 54 billion) a year, having quadrupled in five years. Supply increased due to intense production in the region, which improved quality and reduced prices.
Some reports suggest that the price of coca, the raw ingredient in cocaine, is falling, which could threaten future supplies, as South American growers may choose to grow alternative products.
This gap could benefit methamphetamine manufacturers looking to expand into Europe. Historically, the production of this drug on the continent has been local, serving small domestic markets or exporting to more profitable regions, such as Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.
Now, said Laura Hood, the data points to a growing interest in Europe by Mexican organized crime groups.
Several reports from the Netherlands also suggest that laboratories that produce large amounts of ‘ecstasy’ are switching to meth production. An example of this is a mobile methamphetamine laboratory found on a boat moored in Rotterdam’s docks. According to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, seizures of this substance have also increased in Europe.
Laura Hood said that the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus has an effect on consumer spending and the choice of leisure activities. At a time like this, the relationship between cost and benefit in the drug market is as important as in the rest of the economy, he said. The more lasting effect of methamphetamine , falling prices and the quality of European production can make it seriously competitive.
The scarcity of drugs, or the arrival of synthetics, leads consumers to substitute one variety for another. And while predicting what will happen in the drug market is not an exact science, changes in the global supply chain and the effects of the pandemic provide the conditions for increased methamphetamine supply and consumption, the publisher also said.
Source: Zap Aeiou