Cocaine arrests points to Class A problem
A recent spike in cocaine arrests has focused attention on the Class A drug which, alongside cannabis, risks becoming Gibraltar’s “drug of choice” despite its damaging effects.
Over the past five months the Royal Gibraltar Police has netted more than 143 grams of cocaine while HM Customs has hauled in at least 84 grams of the drug.
According to RGP data, around 17 people have been arrested for cocaine-related offences during the same period.
The amounts are tiny compared to seizures in other countries. But for a community the size of Gibraltar, they point to a significant problem.
Detective Superintendent Ian McGrail of the RGP acknowledged the spike in arrests but cautioned against reading too much into statistics, emphasising that there are many variants to take into account.
The increase in arrests could be a reflection of tougher enforcement rather than an increase in supply.
“I wouldn’t bank entirely on the fact that the spike is attributable to more availability,” he said.
“Availability is there and if it becomes a drug of choice, then the demand is there and that will be supplied…”
“We know how damaging it is to society, how it can wreck families, how it can wreck the future prospects for any up-and-coming youth wanting to embark on a professional career.”
“So we try our utmost to hit the drug dealer so that those drugs are at least harder to get…for recreational users.”
One challenge for law enforcement agencies in Gibraltar is the easy availability of hard drugs in southern Spain, including in nearby cities such as La Linea.
The Iberian peninsula is a well-documented entry point for both cannabis resin and Class A drugs such as cocaine into the European Union.
That makes the drugs easily accessible, something which impacts here too.
“That unfortunately rubs off,” Mr McGrail said.
“Even though you can’t really say how affected our youth is and how affected our population is by that but being so close to a place which has such a high intensity and activity of this type of organised criminality, some of it rubs off unfortunately, some of the mud sticks to you in terms of its effects, its collateral damage.”
“Thankfully we have controls at the border and we work very closely with schools to educate children to stay away from drugs.”
“But we can’t escape the fact that little Gibraltar still lives in the real world. We suffer from the same consequences as other similar jurisdictions.”
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