Record Levels of Global Cocaine Production Surge Following Covid-19 Pandemic

The global supply of cocaine has reached record levels due to a surge in demand following the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC).[0] According to the report, the production of cocaine increased by 35% between 2020 and 2021, the most significant yearly rise since 2016.[1]

The report says that expansion of coca bush cultivation, as well as improvements in the process of its transformation to cocaine, are responsible for the increase in production.[0] Demand for cocaine across the world has grown over the past decade, and although the main markets remain in the Americas and Europe, there is a “strong potential” for expansion in Asia and Africa, according to UNODC.[2]

This report looks at the development of new centers for cocaine trafficking, pointing out that Southeastern Europe and Africa – particularly West and Central Africa – are becoming important transit points for the drug. Western Europe's most common entry points for cocaine have shifted from Spain and Portugal to major ports along the North Sea such as Antwerp, Rotterdam, and Hamburg. Central American drug traffickers are increasingly utilizing various routes to send cocaine to both North America and Europe.[3]

According to the INCB's 2021 annual report, the Dominican Republic was listed as the third highest Central American country in cocaine seizures despite restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.[4] In the Dominican Republic, where corruption has been a contributing factor to its growth as a major cocaine hub, seizures rose in the past year.[5]

Annual cocaine seizure figures are not available for many Caribbean countries.[5] Much of the cocaine seized in the Caribbean last year was due to international cooperation.[5] In September, Interpol and the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) conducted a seven-day joint operation which resulted in the confiscation of over 10 tons of cocaine in the Caribbean. Last year, Colombian, Dutch, and US authorities collaborated to seize an extra 9.7 tons of cocaine in the Caribbean Sea.

The report also highlights the use of international postal services for drug trafficking.[0] Globally, the use of parcel and courier services increased significantly during the Covid-related lockdown due to restrictions on passenger flights.[6] In certain nations in West Africa, there was a visible surge in the amount of smuggling operations of small amounts of cocaine to Europe and other places.[6]

0. “Cocaine production reaches record levels as new trafficking hubs emerge” Yahoo! Voices, 16 Mar. 2023,

1. “Cocaine trafficking surges following COVID-19-related slowdown” UN News, 16 Mar. 2023,

2. “UN drugs agency says global supply of cocaine is at record levels” WION, 16 Mar. 2023,

3. “U.N.: Global cocaine production rebounds after COVID-19 slump in demand” UPI News, 16 Mar. 2023,

4. “The Dominican Republic ranks third in Central American countries with the most drug seizures” Dominican Today, 10 Mar. 2023,

5. “InSight Crime's Cocaine Seizure Round-Up 2022” InSight Crime, 8 Mar. 2023,

6. “The use of crack cocaine is on the rise in the UK according to a new report”, 16 Mar. 2023,