Berlin (dpa) – According to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the number of drug offenses known to the police in Germany rose in 2020 for the tenth year in a row. That is what the president of the authority of Wiesbaden, Holger Münch, said in Berlin on Tuesday.
Since there are usually no reports, most crimes are discovered during checks, which is associated with a high clearance rate of 92.1 percent, but also a high number of unreported cases. The federal government’s drug commissioner Daniela Ludwig (CSU) emphasized: “Drug crime is an absolutely entrenched problem, worldwide, in Europe, but of course also in Germany.”
POPULAR ILLEGAL DRUGS: “Cannabis is still the most trafficked and consumed drug in Germany,” says Münch. The police registered a total of 31,961 cannabis trafficking cases in 2020. Amphetamines were in second place with 5,581 cases – in both drug groups with little change from the previous year. This was followed by cocaine with 4,887 known trafficking offenses and an increase of 9.6 percent from the previous year. The police registered 2,445 cases of ecstasy, which corresponds to a decrease of 11.8 percent. Behind was heroin with 2,214 cases (minus 4.9 percent) and Crystal with 1,737 cases (plus 7.2 percent). Among the legal drugs that were not the subject of the report, tobacco poses the greatest health risk, with numerous deaths and billions in damage to the economy, Ludwig said.
DISCUSSION ON LEGALIZATION: FDP, Greens and Left advocate legalization of cannabis. “A controlled supply of cannabis would free up the necessary resources to meet the challenges of the rapidly developing drug market and organized crime,” said the spokesman for the drug policy of the FDP parliamentary group, Wieland Schinnenburg. Green Bundestag member Dieter Janecek told the Augsburger Allgemeine: “A controlled legalization of cannabis would destroy the opaque black market.” The drug policy spokesman for the left-wing parliamentary group, Niema Movassat, called, among other things, for easier access to treatment options for opioid addicts, as well as more substitute treatments and area-wide drug use chambers.
Both Münch and Ludwig, on the other hand, opposed legalization. Such a move alone makes the statistics look better, Munch said. “But that doesn’t mean they’ve solved a problem; they just don’t see it anymore.” Experience in Canada, for example, has shown that cannabis use has increased significantly. Young people feel encouraged to consume, leading to health problems. The “fairy tale of dehydration” is also incorrect, as most groups of offenders are too more than one drug and, in the case of cannabis legalization, would tend to switch to more dangerous products.
ORGANIZED CRIME: For criminal professional networks, drug trafficking and smuggling is an important business area with billions in profit. According to Münch, this area is responsible for more than a third of organized crime proceedings. “Violent crime is a defining element and the use of weapons is no longer uncommon.” In the Netherlands, there have been about 20 to 30 murders per year in recent years. The victims are mostly, but not exclusively, criminals.
Ludwig emphasized that the drug trade is not only about the small dealers next door, but when in doubt also about murder, blackmail, human trafficking and forced prostitution.
INTERNATIONAL Complications: Federal Bureau of Investigation fears growing influence of Mexican drug cartels. In the Netherlands and Belgium, Mexican offenders are increasingly involved in the production of illegal synthetic drugs, especially crystal. “Mexican drug cartels are characterized by a huge potential for violence, which is still largely confined to the Americas,” the situation report said. “Should the influence of these cartels continue to grow in Europe, it is feared that this will also lead to violent or armed clashes between rival drug organizations.” Conflicts between groups from the Balkans are increasingly spreading to other parts of Europe. Germany is an important sales market and is withdrawing.
The police registered a total of 284,723 suspects related to drug offenses in 2020 – however, this number includes both drug dealers and users. 87 percent of them were men and almost three quarters were German.
INFLUENCE OF CORONA: According to Münch, drugs are increasingly traded online. “All in all, we believe that Corona is again a catalyst, not only for digitization in society, but also in crime,” said the BKA boss. He assumes an increase in the supply on digital markets of 20 to 30 percent. According to statistics, declining sales of the party drug Ecstasy were also attributed to Münch’s corona restrictions.
ENCROCHAT: Münch describes the data from encrypted mobile phones of the Encrochat provider that the BKA obtained through Europol in April 2020 as the “truffle treasure” with an expiration date. This would give authorities an unusual insight into the dark field. Every fourth suspect who used the mobile phones in question was armed, often with firearms or weapons of war, the BKA boss said. On the basis of the data, 2315 preliminary investigations have been launched in Germany and 805 arrest warrants have been issued. In 520 preliminary investigations, the police had taken ‘operational measures’, such as arrests, drug seizures and house searches.