Pubdate: Sat, 26 Jun 2010
Source: Independent (Malta)
Copyright: 2010, Standard Publications Ltd


Malta has the second-highest number of cocaine-related deaths out of
22 European countries, according to a UN report.

The UN's drugs chief said people snorting cocaine in Europe were
destroying the "pristine forests" of the Andes and "corrupting
governments" in West Africa.

The World Drug Report 2010 said cocaine use appeared to be
concentrated in Europe in six countries, including Ireland, which was
one of three European countries with the greatest increase in drug
treatment cases for cocaine since 2002.

But it said Ireland had the most noticeable fall in lifetime cannabis
use across Europe since 2003.

The 333-page document, compiled by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime,
said there were 635 deaths from cocaine in 22 European countries in
2008 (or the latest year available).

Ireland had the fifth-highest rate of drug deaths from cocaine. There
were 34 such deaths in 2005, out of 159 drug deaths, accounting for 21
per cent of the total.

The only countries with a higher rate were Spain (60 per cent), Malta
(37 per cent), Portugal (33 per cent) and France (21 per cent).

The report showed that Ireland was one of nine European countries that
had seizures of cocaine in excess of a tonne. This was due to the
hauls of 1.77 tonnes of cocaine in July 2007 and 1.5 tonnes in
November 2008.

Spain and Portugal have been the main entry points for cocaine
shipments from South America, although France tipped Portugal in 2008
for the first time.

"Cocaine use appears to be concentrated in a few countries in Europe,
notably in Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy, Ireland and Denmark,
where high cocaine use prevalence rates were observed," said the report.

It said the number of people entering drug treatment with cocaine as
their primary drug had increased in Europe for several years.

"Between 2002 and 2007, the largest proportional increases among new
clients were reported by Spain, Ireland and Italy," it said,
accounting for between 13 per cent and 19 per cent of all cases.

The report said use of other drugs, including ecstasy and, in
particular, cannabis, had fallen here.

A separate report, also published ahead of the international day
against drug abuse and illicit trafficking, said injecting drug use
was stabilising across Europe and declining in Western Europe.

The report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug
Addiction said Ireland was 16th out of 24 EU countries (well below the
average) for current and past injecting drug use.

It found the Netherlands had one of the lowest rates.
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