The publication series “Cocaine Insights” has been developed by UNODC in the framework of CRIMJUST. On 19 July 2022, the fourth issue of the series was launched, examining Brazil’s role in the regional and transatlantic cocaine supply chain, and the impact of COVID-19.
Through its research, CRIMJUST aims at providing a better understanding of the global cocaine market, including production and trafficking of cocaine. It also supports the development of regional and action-oriented knowledge that is critical for evidence-based policy making to reduce the cocaine threat. Insights, such as those found in this report, allow for existing analytical tools to be enhanced.
The research highlights the impact of COVID-19 on law enforcement activities and on drug trafficking in and through Brazil and seeks to draw lessons and insight from the complexity of the underlying dynamics.
The report finds that the global market of cocaine continues to show signs of expansion with production at a record high, and the number of global users also increasing. Markets are increasingly integrated, with more efficient and increasingly compartmentalised supply-chains composed of criminal networks rather than large Organised Crime Groups (OCGs).
Brazil’s role in this supply chain was examined through extensive quantitative and qualitative research. It found that COVID-19 had impacted law enforcement activities, disrupted OCG activities, impacted cocaine flows, and changed trafficking modalities in and around Brazil.
With lockdown measures in Brazil, law enforcement was able to dedicate more resources to drug interdiction. The number of cocaine seizures increased, despite the total quantity seized declining slightly. Seizure data suggests significant changes in the dynamics of the cocaine market, especially regarding trafficking in and out of Brazil. Rising seizures in the west suggest that the supply of cocaine into Brazil was not impacted. However, declining seizures in the east suggest that organised crime groups struggled to internally move imported cocaine towards ports. With easier road interdiction measures, there was an increase in the use of clandestine flights, which represents a shift in internal-trafficking modalities.
For more detailed information, read the full report.
Understanding the changes in drug trafficking and organised crime dynamics as a result of the pandemic is critical to understanding how OCGs work and how they react to market and supply-chain disturbances, paving the way for more efficient interdiction methods. The insights collected in this report are key in promoting the sharing of best practices and encouraging the transfer of expertise through CRIMJUST.