"Trafficking in cocaine continued to increase in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and global quantities \ of cocaine seized (not adjusted for purity) increased by 4.5 per cent, to a new record high of 1,424 tons, with quantities of cocaine paste and cocaine base seized rising by 16 per cent, to 108 tons, and quantities of cocaine hydrochloride seized rising by 4 per cent, to 1.105 tons (and only seizures of “crack” cocaine and non-specified types of cocaine showing smaller growth rates). Overall, estimates of global quantities of cocaine manufactured and seized show a strong positive correlation (with a correlation coefficient of 0.88 between 2005 and 2020),20 suggesting that the interception of cocaine has kept pace with the increasing supply of and trafficking in cocaine. In fact, long-term data indicate that quantities of cocaine seized have increased far more than quantities manufactured, although the comparability of the two data sets is limited by the potentially varying levels of purity of seized quantities over time. Between 2010 and 2020, global potential cocaine manufacture, expressed in 100 per cent purity, rose by 75 per cent, while global quantities seized (not adjusted for purity) rose by 125 per cent.21 Uncertainty regarding the purity of seized cocaine across all countries prevents a precise calculation of interception rates, but the data suggest that they increased, although not by enough to reduce the amount of cocaine available for consumption.

"Longer-term increases in global cocaine seizures show a clear upward trend over the past two decades, notably in the period 2015–2020, primarily driven by a shift towards seizures made in South America, notably in the countries where most of the cocaine manufacture takes place. The total quantity seized in South America is now five times as high as in North America, in contrast to the period 1999–2001 when overall cocaine seized in North America was higher than in South America. At the same time, data also show a shift from the Caribbean towards Central America in terms of the quantity of cocaine seized over the last two decades, reflecting a general shift towards trafficking cocaine from Colombia along the Pacific route to Central America and North America instead of via the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean.

"North America, the world’s largest consumer market for cocaine, reported strong increases in seizures of the substance in the period 2015–2020, as did Europe, the second largest consumer region, up to and including 2019, before stabilizing in 2020. Total quantities of cocaine seized in Asia and Africa peaked in 2019, while quantities seized in Oceania continued to trend upwards in 2020."


UNODC, World Drug Report 2022 (United Nations publication, 2022).