More than 70% of the cocaine entering Europe is trafficked through the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam, according to a Europol spokeswoman speaking to the German news agency DPA

in The Hague. Europol's analysis indicates that cocaine smuggling into Europe is on the rise.

Annually, over €31 billion worth of illegal drugs are smuggled into the EU, with cannabis being the top drug at around €12 billion, closely followed by cocaine at approximately €11.6 billion.

Last year, European ports seized over 300 tonnes of cocaine. Antwerp alone saw a record seizure of 116 tonnes of cocaine in 2023, about 10% more than the previous year. In the Netherlands, about 60 tonnes were seized.

Europol's analysis shows that the quantities in individual seizures are also increasing. For instance, Rotterdam saw the largest single seizure to date last year: around 8,000 kilos of cocaine, valued at about €600 million, hidden in a container of bananas.

Increase in Violence

"The enormous profits from cocaine smuggling have attracted numerous criminal networks in the EU," said a Europol spokeswoman. This influx has led to a rise in drug-related violence, with increased competition resulting in more violent confrontations, including murders, shootings, bombings, kidnappings, and arson.

However, the increase in seizures also indicates that investigators are gaining better insights into the gangs' operations. Authorities have cracked criminal digital communication networks such as Encrochat, and Europol has recently identified the 821 most dangerous organized crime networks in the EU. Photo by Alf van Beem, Wikimedia commons.