Cocaine is on the rise in Europe, EU drug agency says

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Bales with cocaine seized by Portuguese Police are displayed next to a Brazilian trawler at a Portuguese Navy base in Almada, outside Lisbon, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Portuguese police say they have intercepted the trawler in the Atlantic Ocean and found on board cocaine with a street value of more than 30 million euros, $34 million. (AP Photo/Helena Alves)

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The European Union agency that monitors illicit drug use says cocaine is becoming more widely available on the continent.

The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction said in a report on Thursday that social media, the darknet and encryption are helping small gangs and individuals to sell drugs undetected.

The agency says authorities have identified “cocaine call centers” which use couriers providing quick and adaptable delivery networks.

The Lisbon-based agency says authorities are fighting back, with the amount of cocaine seized in Europe setting records. In 2017, the latest with full-year data available, authorities seized more than 140 metric tons of cocaine. That was almost double the quantity seized the previous year.

Despite the growth of cocaine, cannabis remains the most widely used illicit drug in Europe.

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