data on drug seizures, price and purity analysed below
were provided by the Reitox
focal points. Differences with data published by Europol
are due to differences in reporting procedures.
Drug seizures are usually considered
as indirect indicators of supply and availability of
drugs, although they also reflect law-enforcement resources,
priorities and strategies, as well as the vulnerability
of traffickers to enforcement. Trends in quantities
seized are biased since they may fluctuate from one
year to another due to a small number of large seizures.
The numbers of seizures are usually a more useful indicator
of trends at user's level. This is because in all countries
they include a major proportion of small seizures from
the retail level of the market. Where known, origin
and destination of drugs seized may indicate trafficking
routes and producing areas. Price and purity of drugs
at retail level are reported by most of the Member States,
but data are scarce and do not allow for accurate comparisons.
However, they may give a rough indication of the availability
of different drugs, alongside information on access
to drugs at user's level.
to drugs by 15 to 16-year-old students
From ESPAD school surveys, perceived
access to drugs by 15 to16-year-olds seems to
have increased between 1995 and 1999 in all participating
EU countries(1) except Ireland and the United
Kingdom where it has been decreasing. In 1999,
cannabis was perceived to be 'very easy' or 'fairly
easy' to obtain by 20 to 60 % of the students,
heroin and cocaine by 5 to 20 %, and amphetamines
and ecstasy by 6 to 38 %. Perceived availability
of illicit drugs is typically very low in Finland
and quite high in Ireland, Denmark and the United
In 1999, over seven tonnes of heroin were seized
in the EU, of which one third was accountable to the
United Kingdom. Heroin seized in the EU comes mainly
from the Golden Crescent (south-west Asia: Afghanistan,
Pakistan), followed by the Golden Triangle (south-east
Asia: Myanmar, Laos, Thailand), via Turkey, the Balkan
Route and the Netherlands. However, increased trafficking
via northeastern European countries was reported, especially
At street level, heroin prices varied
between EUR 30 and 340 a gram in 1999 across the EU.
The highest prices are reported by Finland and Sweden.
Heroin purity ranges typically from under 20 to 35 %,
but a higher average purity is reported by Denmark,
Finland and the United Kingdom.
At EU level, heroin seizures increased up until
199192 and then stabilised. The number of heroin
seizures has grown steadily in Luxembourg, Portugal
and Sweden since 1985, while marked decreases were reported
since 199697 in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France,
Germany and Spain. In every Member State, the quantities
seized fluctuated over the period. In 1999, marked decreases
in the quantities of heroin seized were reported in
Austria, France, Greece, Ireland and the Netherlands,
while in Italy and Spain there were large increases
in the amount of heroin seized.
Heroin street prices are generally
stable, although Luxembourg, Portugal, Sweden and
the United Kingdom reported a recent decrease. Heroin
purity is reported to be stable or decreasing in all
countries, except Germany and the United Kingdom where
it has been recently increasing.
Spain remains the
country in the EU with the highest level of cocaine
seizures. The cocaine used in Europe comes from Latin
America (especially Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela)
via Central America, Spain and the Netherlands.
Retail price of cocaine varies from
EUR 35 to 170 per gram in 1999. The lowest prices are
found in Belgium and Spain and the highest in Finland.
Cocaine purity is generally high, between 55 to 70 %
in most of the countries, except in Ireland which reported
an average of 41 % purity in 1999.
The total number of
cocaine seizures rose steadily since the mid 1980s in
the EU and seemed to stabilise in 1999. Cocaine seizures
increased markedly in 1999 in Luxembourg and Sweden,
while they were decreasing in Austria, Belgium and Denmark.
Following increases up until 1990,
the quantities of cocaine seized stabilised, and from
1994 on fluctuated within an upward trend. In recent
years, quantities went up in France and Sweden and decreased
in Greece, Ireland and Luxembourg.
Cocaine prices are stable in most
countries, but are falling in Luxembourg, Portugal and
United Kingdom. Purity is generally stable, though increased
in the United Kingdom in 1999.