Column: High On Cocaine

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London: Drug abuse is rampant in this city which consumes more cocaine than any other European city. A respectable newspaper has reported that London’s cocaine market is worth an estimated one billion pounds a year and about 23 kg of pure cocaine is snorted a day by its denizens. The quantity is twice that of any other European capital but the rate consumed per person is less than that of Bristol which topped the list of 75 European cities studied by King’s College, London.

According to the newspaper forensic scientists analysed sewage water for levels of cocaine derivatives metabolised by the body. The results showed that cocaine usage increased by about 30 percent at weekends. London’s daily cocaine market is worth an estimated 2.75 million pounds with a gram of the narcotic costing about 40 pounds. Cocaine overdose claimed 637 lives last year, up 158 percent since 2014. Officials have blamed middle-class cocaine users for fuelling the drugs trade and the city’s knife and gun crime.

London mayor, Sadiq Khan has said that drugs are a ‘ key driver for the level of violence on the streets.’ More than 1000 drug related search warrants have been issued since April last year. “ Recreational drug use is not a victimless crime, and anyone purchasing illegal drugs should be under no illusions about the horrific exploitation in the supply chain,” Khan was quoted as saying.

Former drugs threat head of National Crime Agency (NCA), Tony Saggers was quoted as telling a popular news channel that London had got to the point of market saturation as far as narcotics like cocaine are concerned. “ The demand has gone up, the price has stayed stable, people are able to lay their hands on it freely….but other cities are catching up,” he said.

With London reaching the saturation level drug cartels have turned to “county lines” to export the drug to provincial towns. Cocaine is imported here from countries like Colombia, coming hidden mostly in fruit shipments. Several international crime networks have entered the market making it thoroughly competitive.

Commenting on London’s drug ( mainly cocaine) racket on its editorial page in its October 10 issue Evening Standard wrote: “ Of course none of this comes as a shock. Police raids finding massive stores of the drug are routine. This week more than a dozen people were held after raids linked to the discovery of lorries carrying 351 kg of cocaine, some it said to be hidden in boxes of juice for children. It won’t make a blind bit of difference to the ease with which it can be bought. Purity has gone up, prices have gone down and those who want it can find a dealer fast. Some claim it’s quicker than buying a pint in a busy West End bar.”

The edit warned, “ We have reached the point when users aren’t afraid of the law, when the consequences of smuggling and selling the drug are wrecking lives through country-lines gangs and casual violence, and when consequences for health and mental well-being are unknowable. Attempts to persuade users of the grim impact of cocaine—from the trashing of the natural environment in order to grow the coca plant to part it plays in fuelling knife crime—doesn’t seem to make any difference.”

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)