Published On: Sat, Mar 9th, 2024

EU nightmare as murderous gangs flooding bloc with cocaine ‘arming children with AK-47s’ | World | News

AK47s cocaine

AK47s and cocaine are now part of daily life in the EU, reporters were told today (Image: GETTY)

Brutal gangs flooding Europe with are responsible for unprecedented levels of violence in some EU states, including torture and murder, a shocking new report has revealed.

The situation is putting a huge strain on local communities, with corruption facilitating drug trafficking and undermining the rule of law, the drugs agency – European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) – and Europol warned today during a joint press conference.

Their analysis, entitled EU Drug Markets: Key insights for policy and practice, offers chilling insights into the EU drug market, estimated to be worth more than £25billion (€30 billion) annually, making it a major source of income for organised crime.

Alexis Goosdeel, the director of the EMCDDA, said the continent was now seeing levels of violence comparable to Central America, where the drugs are smuggled in from.

He added: “It’s part of the daily reality in the European Union.

11 Tons Of Cocaine Seized In Two Parallel Operations In Vigo And Valencia

Cocaine seized in Spain earlier this year (Image: Getty)

“Violence and corruption, long witnessed in more traditional drug-producing countries, are now increasingly seen within the EU.

“Violence can occur at all levels of the market. It is both a by-product and facilitator of the drugs trade – a trade that is often secured through fear and force.

“Drug-related violence may be driven by organised crime, the personal struggles of users and wider socio-economic issues.”

Europe was now at a “critical juncture”, Mr Goosdeel stressed.

He continued: “We need a holistic European approach to tackle this problem through strengthening our communities, building resilience and preventing the recruitment of young people into crime, providing them with long-lasting alternatives.’

Kop van Zuid district buildings in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Large amounts of cocaine enter Europe via Rotterdam (Image: Getty)

Europol Executive Director Catherine De Bolle said: “We even found torture rooms in the EU.

“We have never seen this before. This was used in Latin America, but not in the EU.”

Ms De Bolle said gangs in Marseille were increasingly hiring adolescents as police spotters or to sell drugs, with children killing one another using AK47 Kalashnikov assault rifles.

Meanwhile, authorities in the ports of both Antwerp and Rotterdam have caught multiple adolescents paid to extract cocaine loads from shipping containers, Ms De Bolle revealed.

She added: “Whole families are living off the income they get through young people working for criminal groups.”

EU Home Affairs Ministers Meeting

Ylva Johansson is EU Commissioner for home affairs (Image: Getty)

De Bolle did not specify the case she was referring to, but there has only been one publicly reported discovery of so-called torture containers in Europe, near the port of Rotterdam in 2020. Several men have been convicted and sentenced to prison in relation to that case.

Of particular concern is the fact that criminal networks operating throughout the bloc were highly adaptable, innovative and resilient to global crises, instability and significant political and economic changes, the report warns.

Recent examples of such shocks include the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s war on Ukraine and the Taliban’s rise to power in Afghanistan, with criminal networks simply adapting, changing trafficking routes and diversifying their methods.

The report also highlights key areas for action at both EU and Member State level in order to address the current threats of the illicit drug market.

Europeans spend over 24 billion euros a year on illegal drugs, new study finds

These include: improving monitoring and analysis of drug market-related violence; further prioritising operational activities that dismantle criminal networks; and boosting international cooperation.

EMCDDA Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson concluded: “Drugs damage our health and our society. Drugs cause addiction, overdose and death. And the organised criminal networks trafficking the drugs undermine society with corruption and violence.

“To counter this dual threat, the EMCDDA and Europol have joined forces in this new report to offer key insights on the EU drug market to inform policy and practice.”

He added: “One critical drug market threat today lies in the exploitation of key logistical infrastructure, particularly seaports.

“In response, the EU has launched the European Ports Alliance to protect ports from drug trafficking and criminal infiltration and strengthen their resilience. This is just one example of actions under the EU Roadmap to fight drug trafficking and organised crime.”

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