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EMCDDA/Europol New Report: Heroin poses substantial threat to health and security in Europe:

What are the latest changes in the EU opioids market? How are global geopolitical developments impacting supply? Are heroin trafficking routes changing? To what extent do synthetic opioids pose a threat to Europe? These are among the issues explored in a new analysis — EU Drug Market: Heroin and other opioids — released today by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) and Europol (1).

The analysis describes the European market for heroin (the most frequently used illicit opioid), from production and trafficking, to distribution and use. It also details the processes, materials and criminal actors involved at different stages and levels of the market. Where available, data on heroin are supplemented by insights into other opioids trafficked and consumed in the EU.

The EU retail heroin market is estimated to be worth at least EUR 5.2 billion annually (2). The quantity of heroin seized by EU Member States more than doubled in 2021 to 9.5 tonnes — the highest amount in 20 years — with large individual consignments detected at seaports. Illicit opioid use remains a major concern in the EU, being responsible for around three-quarters of the over 6 000 drug-related overdose deaths in 2021. There are around 1 million high-risk opioid users in the EU.

The trafficking and distribution of heroin is the mainstay activity for some criminal networks operating in the EU, which rely on well-established infrastructure and contacts. As with other drug types, the abuse of legal business structures, money laundering and corruption are among the key enablers of the illicit heroin market.

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