Tirana, Albania | 12 April 2021 (Tirana Echo) – Albania remains a major source of herbal cannabis trafficked into the EU, with highly organized criminal networks engaged, says the latest report by Europol.
According to the Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (EU SOCTA 2021), which is Europol’s flagship report delivering an insight into and assessment of serious and organised crime in the European Union, the EU faces a clear progression of the cannabis market handled by serious and organized criminal structures which continue to operate across EU member states.
Albania, Morocco, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Syria are identified as main sources of origin.
“Albania remains a major source of herbal cannabis trafficked into the EU. Morocco remains the main source for cannabis resin trafficked to the EU. Some cannabis resin also originates from Afghanistan, Lebanon and Syria. Criminal networks engaged in cannabis trafficking are highly organised.” says the report.
According to Europol, organized crime structures are typically hierarchically structured with roles and levels well-defined around the leadership, or relatively tightly organised but unstructured, and surrounded by a network of individuals engaged in criminal activities. A large share of the cases reported to Europol featuring fatal and serious violence are related to drugs, in particular the trade in cannabis.
The cannabis market remains by far the largest drug market in the EU, with a majority of Member States reporting that the trade in cannabis is either increasing or stable. Cannabis resin and herbal cannabis remain the two main cannabis products traded in the EU.
The average potency of both cannabis resin and herbal cannabis has increased over the last decade. A higher strength/potency of cannabis increases its potential harm.
Europol says that the cannabis market is expected to remain the largest drug market in the EU. Cannabis trafficking will remain a significant source of income for a wide range of criminal networks. Herbal cannabis production is expected to continue to take place in and close to the profitable EU consumer markets.
EU-based cannabis cultivation will remain innovative in terms of growth, lighting and monitoring methods that increasingly apply laboratory technology to extract and test cannabis. Criminal networks are expected to invest in these developments and a further diversification of cannabis products can be expected in the future.
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