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Algarve: Europe’s unstated cocaine smuggling capital sees rise in drug trafficking

43cocaine capitalThroughout 2019, Portugal continued to be used by criminal groups and organizations as a gateway point for massive quantities of cocaine from Latin America and the Caribbean, destined for other European countries, according to data released by the Judiciary Police.

The 2019 report on combating drug trafficking, released yesterday, shows that cocaine was the drug seized in greatest quantities in Portugal, with 10.56 tonnes being taken from smugglers, representing an increase of 90.7% compared to the 2018 figure.

At a national level the Algarve came out on top as the region of Portugal where the largest quantities of cocaine were seized (3,330.65 kg), followed by Lisbon (2,476.97 kg), Setúbal (2,039.42 kg), Porto (1,233.36 kg) and the Azores (1,090 , 99 kilos), indicates the report.

However, despite the Algarve being the top location in the country regarding the amount of seized cocaine, the region that beats it in regards to the number of seizures is Lisbon, with 245 throughout 2019.

Looking at the flows identified by geographical area of ​​origin, as in previous years, Brazil, either by the number of seizures (202) or by the quantity seized (2,744.10 kilos) is the destination where the majority of Portugal’s cocaine embarks from. The document adds that, in terms of quantities, Colombia, with 2,731.97 kilos, and Ecuador, with 770.65 kilos, also appear as main countries of origin.

In 2019, the report counted 676 criminals taken into custody due to crimes related to cocaine trafficking, of which 609 were put in prison (90.1%). The male gender is the one with the greatest number of criminals related to cocaine trafficking (539), corresponding to 79.7% of the total. As for nationalities associated with trafficking, the Portuguese made up 54.2% (367) of the intervening parties taken into custody by Portuguese authorities, followed by the Brazilians with 21% (142) and Cape Verdeans with 5.1% (35).

"Compared to the previous year, we have seen a decrease in the number of criminals of Portuguese nationality as opposed to a substantial increase in those of Brazilian nationality," says the report.

Regarding the price of cocaine smuggled into the country, only 13.7% of the seizures (79 cases) yielded evidence to provide information on the amount paid to bring the drug into the country, thus determining, in 2019, an average value per gram was 32.53 euros.

The report, which analyses data on the four most common drugs (cocaine, cannabis, heroin and ecstasy), notes that cocaine emerges as the drug with the highest quantities seized, surpassing cannabis, thus maintaining the trend of 2018. The quantities of seized cocaine in 2019 increased by 90.7% compared to 2018, reaching 10,567.66 kilos compared to the 5,540.68 kilos seized in 2018.

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