“The Direzione Centrale per i Servizi Antidroga of the Department of Public Security- that this year celebrates the 30th anniversary of its establishment, occurred in 1991- on 18 June, 2021, in the eve of the UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, published its “Annual Report”, summarizing the activities carried out and the results achieved in Italy in 2020.
The Director of the Direzione Centrale per i Servizi Antidroga, Lt. General of the Guardia di Finanza Antonino Maggiore, outlined the activities carried out and the results achieved, in the De Sena Room of the Central Directorate of Criminal Police (……)
With respect to the past years, the distinguishing feature of 2020 was the Covid-19 health emergency. The measures taken at global level to contain the contagion, led to restrictions on people’s mobility and a slowdown in the dynamics of international trade and have also had an impact on drug trafficking that has always taken advantage of the opportunities offered by the transnational movement of goods, to move large-scale drug consignments. The resumption of trade in the second half of the 2020 and the remarkable ability of the criminal organizations to adapt to the different socio-economic context have quickly revived trade after an initial slowdown.
The response of the law enforcement agencies was effective: the amount of antidrug operations coordinated and supported by DCSA (approximately 23,000), is in line with last decade’s average as is the number of reports to the Judicial authorities (approx. 33,000), while drug seizures, 58 tons in total, were higher than in 2019(+7.41%).
The absolute record of cocaine seizures is particularly striking. Such seizures amounted to 13.4 tons, with an increase of 62.2% with respect to 2019, a year in which the record figure of 8.2 tonnes had been registered at national level.
Most of the seizures were carried out in ports, approximately the half of them occurred in Gioia Tauro. The figures related to the first months of this year seem to confirm this growing trend, with a consistently high level of cocaine seizures. Furthermore, the analysis of the operational activities shows a possible reshaping of cocaine trafficking routes, in which Italy is at the crossroads with the Balkan peninsula, as demonstrated by numerous international controlled deliveries of drugs destined for the countries in that area, where organized criminal groups with a consolidated leading role in the drug trafficking operate, developing important “joint ventures” with South American cartels. The Calabrian ‘ndrangheta, operating in cooperation with other national mafia type organizations and foreign groups, confirmed its leading role in the of international cocaine trafficking.
Despite a clear reduction in the detected shipments, cannabis remains the most widely seized drug, with 29.6 tons and 414,396 plants, which demonstrates a high level of demand.
Compared to the average of the last five years, heroin seizures remained stable (amounting to approx. half a tonne), although lower than in 2019.
Synthetic drugs seizures registered a massive increase in quantities, mainly due to a single operation occurred in the Salerno port. Such operation led to the detection of over 14 tons of amphetamines, probably destined for foreign markets. Synthetic drugs consumption at national level, although still limited and not comparable with the one of traditional drugs, is growing among young people who use the web and social platforms to purchase drugs in the digital drug markets. Illicit substances are delivered at home in different ways, such as by pushers disguised as delivery men or through other disguising methods.
Moreover, in 2020 the law enforcement agencies intercepted 33 new non-scheduled substances, that will be included in the tables of controlled substances.
The decrease of overdose deaths is worth of attention. After three years of continuous growth, in 2020 they were 308, with a decrease of 66units, with respect to 2019 ( -17.65%).
In the year under review, drug trafficking was confirmed as “the main driving force for all illegal activities carried out by the large criminal syndicates”, with huge profits to be laundered and used to self-finance further illegal activities.
Effective international cooperation in the drug trafficking sector has continued. It involved organizations, European and non-European countries and was carried out through Antidrug Operational Memorandums (AOM), technical protocols aimed at encouraging special antidrug operations.
Law Enforcement Attachès posted in strategic drug trafficking areas made an appreciable contribution, both in terms of information flows and promotion of cooperation initiatives with producing and transit countries.
In 2020 the projects “ICARUS” and “HERMES” were further developed. These projects stemmed from the inter-institutional cooperation between the Department for Antidrug Policies of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (DPA) in the demand and supply reduction and prevention fields. Within “ICARUS”, the project “Southern Route” was set up with the Central Directorate of Criminal Police and Interpol. It is aimed at strengthening police cooperation with South-eastern African countries, a new transit area of the Afghan heroin. In the framework of “HERMES”, the guidelines for new operational methods to counteract synthetic drugs trade carried out through postal shipments run by public and private couriers, were outlined. Such guidelines will contribute to the strengthening of the National Early Warning System of the DPA.