Global Cocaine Production on the Rise


Bundles of cocaine | Image by Leon Rafael

Global production of narcotics has begun to surge across the globe.

The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released its Global Report on Cocaine for 2023, which details a rise in overall production on a global scale.

The office observed a dramatic uptick in production rates since 2014. Global production had fallen to just under 900 tons of cocaine seized in 2014 and more than doubled to nearly 2,000 in 2020.

“The surge is partly a result of an expansion in coca bush cultivation, which doubled between 2013 and 2017, hit a peak in 2018, and rose sharply again in 2021,” said officials in the report. “But it is also due to improvements in the process of conversion from coca bush to cocaine hydrochloride,” they continued.

This surge in production has also been matched by an uptick in users of the drug. The concentration of users is still primarily in the Americas and Europe, but there appears to have been a significant expansion in Africa and Asia.

UNODC officials observed in the report that the COVID-19 pandemic had a “disruptive effect” on global drug markets, in part due to transportation hurdles and shutdowns of establishments like bars and clubs, but that this decrease had little to no effects on long-term trends.

The report also observed new cocaine trafficking hubs in Northwestern Europe as well as Western and Central Africa, with these areas being used as drug transit zones. Transit zones have also begun to “diversify” as more of the drug is sent to North America and Europe.

This new report also details a rise in the retail purity of this drug in the United States. Rates had reached a low in 2012 at around 45% but rose to approximately 65% in 2018, and the trend has continued upward since.

“With its latest knowledge and trends on the routes, modalities, and networks employed by criminal actors, it is my hope that the report will support evidence-based strategies which stay ahead of future developments in cocaine production, trafficking, and use,” said Angela Me, chief of the Research and Analysis Branch at UNODC, according to a release.

UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly said in a statement that this new surge is worthy of a “high alert.”

“The potential for the cocaine market to expand in Africa and Asia is a dangerous reality,” said Waly in the statement. “I urge governments and others to closely examine the report’s findings to determine how this transnational threat can be met with transnational responses based on awareness raising, prevention, and international and regional cooperation,” she continued.

Despite this rise in production rates, the report goes on to claim that police interception of this drug has also risen, which has kept this growth “contained.”

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9 days ago

Why not just let adults consume what ever products that they want even if doing so is unhealthy?

William E Danielson
William E Danielson
Reply to  Bill
9 days ago

Legalize all drugs. The US poisons it’s citizens and claims victory on the WAR ON DRUGS>