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Europe must reduce its demand for cocaine, says Colombian defence minister

A mobile container scanner van scans the inside of a cargo container on a truck in the Port of Antwerp on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022
A mobile container scanner van scans the inside of a cargo container on a truck in the Port of Antwerp on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022 Copyright Virginia Mayo/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Virginia Mayo/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
By Christopher Pitchers
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Iván Velásquez Gómez said his country was doing its bit in the fight against organised crime and the EU must now do the same.


Europe must play its part in stamping out drug trafficking by reducing the continent's huge demand for cocaine, according to the defence minister of Colombia.

Ivan Velásquez Gómez was in Brussels on Friday for the second EU-Colombia drugs dialogue, where he urged the bloc to step up its efforts.

"What we are doing, is working to avoid that cocaine reaches you here on your continent [Europe]," the Colombian minister told reporters on Friday.

"But at the same time we would also like to see action being taken to ensure that since we are trying to control supply, consumer countries should try to control and reduce demand because as long as there is demand, people will work to produce the supply.

"We will see the supply being produced because the drug traffickers have sufficient opportunity to sell their goods and that is why it is only by working together that we will be able to squeeze the supply and demand and bring about a radical reduction in the supply and demand of drugs and this will help to bear fruit both when it comes to repression on the one hand and prevention on the other."

One of the main concerns among European governments is the increase in violence linked to drug trafficking, something that was previously considered to be reserved only for Latin American countries, where violence related to organised crime is high.

There has already been a number of high-profile cases over the past year, including the death of an 11-year-old girl in a drug-related shootout in Antwerp.

On Friday, both Brussels and Bogotá committed to even greater information sharing and communication as part of their overall efforts to fight organised crime.

Fentanyl on the horizon

But as violence related to drug crime increases in Europe, a new threat is emerging - fentanyl.

The synthetic opioid - estimated to be 50 times stronger than heroin - has been identified by the EU as a possible high risk in the near future.

However, the Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, told Euronews that the bloc is already preparing for an increase and distribution of fentanyl.

"What member states need to be able to go after this [fentanyl] and to do the prevention is updates and more or less real-time information on the assessment of how things are developing," she said.

"And this is the task now with the new mandate for the EU Drugs Agency and we also doubled the resources for the EU Drugs agency."

The latest data from 2021 shows that there were only 137 deaths in the EU related to fentanyl use, but Johansson said she expects this to increase in the next few years.

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