COPOLAD III: Expert meeting on the chemical concealment of cocaine

Increasingly sophisticated techniques are being used today to conceal and smuggle cocaine into Europe. Such techniques include incorporating cocaine base or hydrochloride (HCI) into other materials (e.g. beeswax, plastic, clothing), then extracting it in special laboratories (‘secondary extraction’ labs) set up inside EU borders.

The chemical concealment of cocaine is the focus of an expert meeting kicking off today in Rhenen, the Netherlands, under the COPOLAD III programme. Co-organised by the EMCDDA, the Dutch police and the EU-funded CHEMTEC project, the event brings together experts with practical knowledge of how criminals conceal, extract and further process cocaine. The participants represent Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries, EU agencies as well as European, US and Australian law-enforcement forensic units.

During the three-day meeting, participants will share knowledge, expertise and best practice on the detection of chemically concealed cocaine. In addition, the event will foster network-building and the development of privileged contacts in law-enforcement forensic units and EU agencies.

The discussions will also provide important input for the mapping of forensic capacities in LAC countries, an activity to be developed by the EMCDDA under the COPOLAD III partnership. A report with the meeting outcomes will be shared among meeting participants and selected stakeholders.

The European Drug Report 2023, launched on 16 June, describes how a well-established secondary cocaine production industry exists in Europe, with 34 cocaine laboratories dismantled in 2021 (23 in 2020), some of which were large-scale.