Belgium is major hub for cocaine and speed production in Europe

Belgium is a major hub for the production and transit of cocaine and speed, according to a new Europol report released on Thursday. The European drug market is becoming increasingly diverse, complex and violent, the report says.

The value of the drug market in the EU is estimated to be at least 31 billion euros, according to the report by Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), which looks at the year 2021.

Cannabis remains the most lucrative drug, with an annual retail value of 12.1 billion euros, followed by cocaine at 11.6 billion euros. Heroin accounted for 5.2 billion, followed by amphetamines at 1.6 billion and ecstasy/MDMA at 0.6 billion.

Shifting production

The report shows that cocaine is on the rise in Europe, mainly because of the wide availability of cheap and high-purity cocaine. Criminal gangs are also increasingly shifting cocaine production from Latin America to Europe.

This increases the risk that new smokable cocaine products, such as crack cocaine, will become more widely known in European consumer markets, according to Europol and the EMCDDA.

Since 2017, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain have seen the largest seizures of cocaine, highlighting their importance as gateways for the drug. In the Belgian port of Antwerp, a record 116 tonnes of cocaine was intercepted last year.

Belgium and the Netherlands are also the two largest production centres for amphetamines or speed. And while the market for methamphetamine or crystal meth is relatively small, it is also growing and the drug is being produced on an industrial scale in both countries.

Diverse, complex and violent

Europol and the EMCDDA say that the European drug market is becoming increasingly diverse, complex and violent. The organisations therefore call for better cooperation between European countries in the fight against drug crime.

Europol chief Catherine De Bolle said that drug gangs are increasingly recruiting very young, vulnerable people, making it difficult for them to escape criminal circles.

She said campaigns should be developed to warn children and young people. "A vigilant, concerted response is needed to protect our citizens and society from the pervasive influence of this invisible enemy."



Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels