The Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region hosts major routes for trafficking Afghan opiates as well as newly emerging Afghan-produced ephedrine and amphetamine.
It also plays an increasingly important role in cocaine trafficking out of Latin America destined for European and Asian markets. There is a burgeoning industry of kitchen-type laboratories producing various types of new psychoactive substances (NPS) and amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) in the region, and most of these products are produced for domestic consumption rather than export. Generally, the region is not considered to be a production center for drugs, yet production has been growing in recent years. The lack of heroin and the availability of pharmaceutical compounds have led to a rise in the injection of other types of drugs, including pharmaceuticals, homemade opioids, various types of stimulants and lab-made methadone.
The production of NPS is a growing threat across the whole EECA region, especially in countries such as the Czech Republic, Estonia and Russia. However, the tradition of producing homemade opiates is still strong especially against the background of reduced heroin availability. The region also hosts a wide variety of criminal groups that are involved in various stages of drug supply chains. These groups are involved in the production, trafficking and distribution of drugs, and are of a diverse nature. In post-Soviet countries, traditional organised crime and mafia-type groups are often involved. However, a significant part of the drug trade is done by less organised and non-hierarchical criminal networks. Similarly, small-scale ‘kitchen-type’ production of methamphetamine in EU member states is usually not linked to organised crime groups, but to small circles of people who use drugs.
Balkan drug trafficking organisations are potentially the most potent and internationalised, and play an increasingly important role in cocaine trafficking to Europe. Corruption is a major facilitating factor for drug trafficking, with some state-embedded actors going beyond offering mere protection to drug trafficking networks and taking a direct role in organising the drug trade.