Users increasingly turn to Internet to buy drugs - EU report

BRUSSELS Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:35pm IST

A visitor is seen at the You Tube stand during the annual MIPCOM television programme market in Cannes, southeastern France, October 3, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/Files

A visitor is seen at the You Tube stand during the annual MIPCOM television programme market in Cannes, southeastern France, October 3, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Gaillard/Files

Related Topics

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Virtually any kind of illegal drug can be bought on the Internet and delivered by post to users who no longer need to make direct contact with dealers, an EU study published on Thursday said.

It gave no statistics on online drug sales, which are normally conducted on so-called "darknets", or anonymous computer networks.

The report, compiled by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and Europol, the pan-European police agency, said increased globalisation and communication technology made it harder to track drug routes.

"Practically any type of drug can be bought on the Internet," Europol director Rob Wainwright told a briefing. "The consumers may feel that it is 'cleaner' to buy drugs without any direct contact with the drug dealer."

These drugs are being moved through legitimate forms of commercial transportation - containers, aircraft and postal services, all making the drugs harder to intercept.

EMCDDA director Wolfgang Goetz said drug users' behaviour was also changing.

"Patterns of drug use have become more fluid, with consumers often using multiple substances or substituting one drug for another," Goetz said.

NORTHWEST EUROPE A MAJOR CONCERN

Europol's Wainwright said drug trafficking was the main activity of organised crime groups, providing funding for other criminal activity.

The report pinpointed northwest Europe -- Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and northern France -- as an area where organised crime is high, partly because of its many transport hubs, and Wainwright said the region's status as a final destination for cocaine and heroin, as well as people trafficking and illegal immigration, made it a major concern.

The report recommended that the European Union work to target high-value crime groups, develop intelligence on the geographic relocation of potential criminals, interrupt money flows and create barriers to drug sales on the Internet.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said ministers from the 27 member states would study the report for possible policy changes and action across the European Union.

"We need to keep pace with these new developments and adapt our policies and responses to this reality," Malmstrom said. "National measures, however robust, will simply not be sufficient if implemented in isolation."

The European Union is an increasingly important producer of synthetic drugs and cannabis, with mobile production units making it easy for synthetic drugs to be concealed during manufacturing.

"As with synthetic drugs, there has been a trend towards producing the drug near to its intended consumers," Goetz said. "This will be a growing trend in the future."

The report estimated 2,500 tonnes of cannabis are consumed each year in the European Union and Norway, with a retail value of 18-30 billion euros.

Malmstrom said no European-wide legalisation of cannabis is on the Commission's agenda.

(Editing by Stephen Powell)

FILED UNDER:

"India's Daughter"

Reuters Showcase

Microfinance

Microfinance

Funding the unfunded: India helps small business borrow to grow  Full Article 

Insurance Sector

Insurance Sector

UK healthcare firm Bupa sees strong growth in India  Full Article 

Sensex Rises

Sensex Rises

Sensex edges up; consumer and healthcare stocks rise  Full Article 

Market Eye

Market Eye

FTSE adds nine Indian firms as large-caps in Asia-Pacific ex-Japan index   Full Article 

Indian Ocean Diplomacy

Indian Ocean Diplomacy

PM Modi to ramp up help for Indian Ocean nations to counter China influence  Full Article 

ECB Bond-Buying

ECB Bond-Buying

ECB raises growth forecasts, to start printing money next week  Full Article 

China Economy

China Economy

China signals "new normal" with lower annual growth target  Full Article 

Pharma Sector

Pharma Sector

Panel recommends waiving late-stage trials for some drugs  Full Article 

E-commerce

E-commerce

China backs e-commerce expansion in win for Alibaba, JD.com  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage