More than €11 million worth of cocaine was seized in 2012, marking a substantial jump from previous years, according to the latest European drug report.

The 2014 European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction report released yesterday revealed that the local authorities had uncovered a staggering 143 kilos of cocaine in 80 different drug busts in 2012, the last year under review.

This is an astronomical rise in seizures compared to previous years. In 2010, the authorities had confiscated four kilos of cocaine, valued at €79 per gram, followed by five kilos in 2011.

The figure is also high by international standards. Denmark, the closest EU country to Malta in terms of size and population, seized 42 kilos, which translates into about a third of the local stash.

The gigantic jump in Malta’s figures is down to the record haul of 140 kilos of cocaine discovered at the Freeport hidden in two olive presses stored in a container destined for Lebanon.

The drug, 70 per cent pure, was the biggest cocaine haul ever made in Malta.

Cocaine was not the only illicit substance discovered by the local authorities.

The report says local investigations also uncovered 16 kilos of cannabis resin, 46 cannabis plants and one kilo of heroin in 2012. More than 1,080 ecstasy pills, with a street value of €10 for each pop, were also discovered, as well as 1,197 kilos of khat, popular with sub-Saharan migrants, were found in 2012 alone.

Local authorities uncovered a staggering 143 kilos, up from four kilos in 2010 and five kilos in 211

The cornucopia of illicit substances was intercepted by Customs officers and the police and eventually incinerated after being used as evidence in court proceedings.

Around one million seizures are reported in the EU every year, two-thirds of which in Spain and the UK alone.

Some 80 per cent of the drugs confiscated are cannabis related.

Methamphetamine is the least commonly found substance.

Children using cocaine – report

Malta tops the list, along with five other countries, for the number of schoolchildren abusing cocaine.

The EMCDDA report revealed that four per cent of children aged between 15 and 16 used the drug in 2011, the last year under review. This means nearly one in every 20 students who sat for their O levels that year had used the illicit substance.

Known as the rich man’s drug, cocaine is a highly addictive, amphetamine-based stimulant preferred for its uplifting effect.

Despite its unofficial title and average local street price of €79 per gram, the drug seems to be more popular among younger users than the adult population.

In fact, the 2014 report revealed just 0.4 per cent of Maltese adults under 64 reported using the drug in their lifetime, the second lowest in the EU after Romania.

Cocaine is the most commonly used illicit stimulant in Europe, although most users are found in a restricted number of countries. The report estimated that about 2.2 million people aged 15 to 34 used the substance in the past year.

Interestingly, the drug on the local market was the least pure in Europe, coming in at just 15 per cent average purity compared to as much as 59 per cent in other member states.

Cocaine, however, was not the only substance to attract younger users.

The study revealed that one in 10 Maltese 15-year-olds regularly smoked cannabis and three per cent had tried amphetamines and ecstasy pills.

One per cent of local teenagers surveyed had also injected or smoked heroin at least once.

Opium-based drugs were the most popular among Maltese adults with six in every 1,000 saying they had tried it before.

Malta has the third highest incidence of heroin use out of all 28 member states, surpassed only by Luxemburg and Latvia.

The purity of local heroin was relatively high at 20 per cent, compared to the six per cent EU minimum.

However, quality drugs are pricey and a single gram of heroin currently sets local users back by at least €66.

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