New Report Just Published: EU Drug Markets Analysis


The market for illicit drugs, controlled by criminal networks, represents a serious security threat to the European Union. It endangers public health and safety while fostering extreme violence and corruption, undermining the very fabric of society, democracy and the rule of law. The increasing diversity and complexity of EU drug markets also presents new challenges, requiring a comprehensive European drug alert system to improve responses and prevent the situation from escalating. 

One critical aspect of the threat from drug markets lies in the exploitation of key logistical infrastructure, particularly seaports. Criminal networks infiltrate these hubs of trade and transportation, turning them into conduits for unprecedented drug flows. The economic and social repercussions of these developments pose urgent challenges, escalating the security threat and further increasing the availability of illicit drugs in Europe. The European Union therefore needs to strengthen the resilience of these and other logistics hubs to prevent their further exploitation for illicit drug trafficking. 

The recruitment of young people by criminal networks involved in drug markets compounds this crisis. Vulnerable youth are lured or forced to partake in dangerous and illicit activities by criminal organisations. This jeopardises their future opportunities and perpetuates a cycle of crime and violence, highlighting the need for a strong focus on prevention. 

Disrupting these criminal networks poses a complex challenge, as they constantly adapt to external shocks and increasingly use specialist criminal service providers. Given the globalised nature of these networks, aided by technological developments, they also increasingly coordinate their illicit drug trafficking activities from outside the European Union. This underlines the crucial role of international cooperation in disrupting criminal supply routes and networks. While arrests of key individuals remain important, it is vital to increase law enforcement and judicial authorities’ capabilities to dismantle whole criminal networks, particularly in cooperation with international partners. 

Read OCRRP  analysis

The Report

EU Drug Markets Analysis 2024 (1)


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