Coca production reaches record levels: UNODC reports

The Global Report on Cocaine 2023 published by UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) revealed that global supply of cocaine is at record levels.

The report cited the effects Covid-19 pandemic had on the industry in terms of supply, transportation, and demand changes. Demand dropped due to places of gathering, such as bars, being shut down in efforts to control the virus spread.

Transportation was also affected with restrictions imposed on international travel. Recent data, however, shows the markets are recovering following the pandemic.

Around 2,000 tons were produced in 2020, and could be traced back to “an expansion in coca bush cultivation” in addition to “improvements in the process of conversion from coca bush to cocaine hydrochloride.”

The demand, having a rising course as well, can be explained by “a rising prevalence of cocaine use” and “population growth,” the report elaborates.

The report also discusses means of drug transportation during and after the pandemic. The lockdown has caused a spike in using parcel and “international mail services,” since traffickers could not rely on air transportation means.

Gathered data show Africa recovered its position as a transit zone for the drug reaching record levels during 2021. This is evident in quantities seized and the number of large seizures, especially in maritime nations.

The report also anticipates Russia-Ukraine war would reduce demand for Cocaine in Ukraine. On the other hand, it remains unclear how consumption habits would be affected in Russia.

The report highlights the parallel increase in the drug’s interception by law enforcement “at a higher speed than production… and has contained the growth of the global amount of cocaine available for consumption.”

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