Migrants heading to Europe risk becoming drug mules for unscrupulous traffickers, the EU’s migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos warned on Tuesday.
“Cocaine trafficking is linked to terrorist groups operating in the Syrian conflict. We all know that. However, the extent of this linkage is not very clear,” Avramopoulos said at a press conference on presentation of a key report by the Lisbon-based European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction.
“Migrants and victims of human trafficking are probably used” by drug smugglers, he said as Europe struggles to cope with its worst migration crisis since World War II. Last year, more than a million people fleeing war and crushing poverty entered the bloc, with another 200,000 arriving since January.
“We have declared a war on smugglers… (who) don’t hesitate to use desperate people in whatever way possible,” he said.
In its report, the centre warned over the increasing use of ever-more powerful cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids, sold as legal cannabis alternatives, saying young drug users risked ending up being “human guinea pigs” for a new wave of sometimes highly-toxic recreational drugs.
It also warned of a resurgence in ecstasy (MDMA) use and the development of online trafficking networks.
“The drug problem in the EU is not diminishing. There are new products, new patterns of use, new markets, and therefore new health risks,” Avramopoulos said.