1. Key developments in drug markets of North Africa and Middle East

Wednesday, 23 November, 2022 - 15:00 to 16:30
Insights zone 4 (I4)

Abstract

The presentation will detail the trends in illicit drug production, trafficking and consumption in North Africa and the Middle East, with a focus on cocaine, amphetamine type stimulants and diverted pharmaceuticals.Field interviews with more than fifty key informants in the region, coupled with a desk review of existent studies, media reports, and official statistics.

Both regions have witnessed growing trafficking and consumption over the last decade, a dynamic which has been further fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic and linked border closures. Regional differentiation, however, exists. In North Africa, trafficking of cocaine and diverted pharmaceuticals has risen, driving expansion in diverted pharmaceutical consumption and, to a lesser degree, an increase in domestic cocaine use. In the Levant, production and trafficking of amphetamine type stimulants and synthetic cannabinoids have also been on raise contributing to changing patterns in drug use.

Shifting production, trafficking and use patterns in North Africa and the Middle East are of concern because, while remaining separate in dynamics, the interconnection of the two regions (including via drug trafficking networks) predicts a potential risk for fuelling a transfer of the emerging trends between the two. While amphetamine-type stimulants and synthetic cannabinoid production and consumption remains limited in North African states, there is a substantial risk that the region could follow the trajectory of states in Levant. The potential for cross-fertilization raises substantial public health, rule of law, corruption and criminality concerns, and thus needs to be carefully monitored in order to pro-actively address emergent issues.

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