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Alcohol industry argues for tax relief following South Africa’s COVID-19 sales ban
In response to the South African government’s ban on alcohol sales during COVID-19 restrictions, the South African Liquor Brandowners Association has requested an excise duty deferment. The alcohol industry have argued that they will struggle to pay excise taxes because of loss of earnings from lock-down measures.
European Anti-Fraud Office seized nearly 370 million illegal cigarettes in 2020
The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) have reported that they seized almost 270 million illegal cigarettes in international operations carried out during 2020. Most commonly, illicit tobacco smuggling operations involved collaboration between Malaysian, Belgian, Italian and Ukrainian authorities.
More than 115,000 kilograms of cocaine seized in the Netherlands in 2020
Customs and investigative authorities in the Netherlands have reported that more than 115,000 kilograms of cocaine were seized during anti-drug operations carried out in 2020. Furthermore, approximately 1,000 kilograms of hashish and khat and 500 kilograms of ecstasy and cannabis were intercepted during that time.
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania report high levels of alcohol consumption
Statistics published by Eurostat on household alcohol consumption and expenditure in 2019 suggest that people living in the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania spent a greater proportion of their income on alcohol than people in other EU countries. On average people living in those states spent an estimated 4.7% (Estonia), 4.8% (Latvia) and 3.7% (Lithuania) of their household income on alcohol compared with the EU average of 1.6%.
Counter-narcotics bureau established in Fiji
Fiji’s national police service has established a counter-narcotics bureau to reduce import and use of illicit substances such as methamphetamine and cannabis. The anti-drug unit was formed following a rise in the number of drug seizures in recent years.
Mexico publishes cannabis regulations
Three years after Mexico approved a bill that would legalise medicinal cannabis, its health ministry has published the regulations required to govern sales and use of the product. The regulations cover cultivation, processing and licencing requirements for growing medical cannabis in Mexico and outline the regulations for pharmaceutical companies intending to conduct medical research using cannabis products.
Alcohol exports down 19% in Ireland
According to Export Performance and Prospects 2020/21, a report from Bord Bia (an Irish state agency that promotes food and agriculture), overall exports of alcohol in Ireland were down 19% in 2020 compared with the previous year. The report indicates a 12% drop in exports to the UK market and a 16% drop to the European market. The decline has been attributed to restaurants, bars and pubs having closed because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Fentanyl seizures increase fivefold in Mexico
Official government drug statistics for 2020 suggest there was a 486% rise in the number of fentanyl seizures in Mexico. According to Mexico’s Ministry of Defence, in 2020 1,301 kilograms of fentanyl were seized and 175 laboratories involved in fentanyl production were destroyed.
Supervised injection site blocked in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Plans to open a supervised injection site in Philadelphia have been blocked by a federal ruling. A panel of three judges considered an application by non-profit organisation Safehouse and concluded that a supervised injection site would violate federal law. The judges cited a law that was passed in 1986 to address concerns about ‘crack houses’ and that made it a federal offence to open a property in which other people would use drugs.
Europol shuts down the world’s largest crypto-market selling illegal drugs
A Europol-coordinated international operation has shut down DarkMarket, one of the world’s largest crypto-markets. The marketplace had nearly 500,000 users and 2,400 vendors and allowed customers to buy and sell illegal drugs, stolen credit card data and malware. Police have arrested the suspected operator.
Washington, USA, introduces quick access to drug treatment
A new law in Washington state requires authorities to minimise delays for people seeking inpatient drug treatment. Under new regulations, people who use drugs, or their family members, can directly contact a treatment provider to arrange an admission. Previously, admissions could be delayed by several weeks whilst an outpatient assessment was completed and insurance authorisation sought.
Florence city council to ban smoking in selected outdoor places
Local authorities in the Italian city of Florence have announced plans to ban smoking in outdoor public places, such as parks and gardens, where young people are present. The restrictions are expected to be implemented in June 2021 and are part of the city’s plan to reduce air pollution. Florence will become the second Italian city (after Milan) to restrict outdoor smoking.
Scotland’s click and collect service has distributed nearly 200 naloxone kits
The ‘Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs’ charity has reported that since it started a naloxone click and collect service in May 2020, it has distributed 187 kits of naloxone to people at risk of overdose as well as their families and treatment providers. The service was launched to increase availability of the opioid overdose reversal drug during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Second licence to grow medical cannabis granted in the UK
Northern Leaf Ltd, a Jersey company, has secured Britain’s second licence to grow pharmaceutical grade cannabis. The licence, issued by the Jersey government under UK Home Office rules, was granted more than 20 years after the first licence. The company plans to supply high quality medicinal cannabis to the UK and European markets.
Supermarket alcohol sales banned in Zimbabwe due to COVID-19 pandemic
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Justice has extended a previous ban on alcohol sales in bars and alcohol stores so that it now includes supermarket sales. The ban was implemented to help slow transmission of COVID-19. The new restrictions were introduced on the 5th January and set to last for 30 days.
Turkey increases special consumption tax on alcohol by 17.1%
Turkey has increased its fixed tax on alcoholic drinks by 17.1%, in accordance with its twice-yearly planned tax increases. Alcohol product distributors have voiced concern that the increase, which is higher than the average increase of 14.6%, has caused a rise in the number of people distilling their own alcohol.
Police seize largest haul of ecstasy in Europe
Police in Spain have reported the seizure of 827,000 ecstasy pills, 76 kg of amphetamine, 39.5 kg of crystal methamphetamine, 89 kg of cannabis, and 1.65 kg of cocaine in what they claim to be the biggest drug haul in Europe. The drugs, found in false compartments of vehicles traveling from Spain to the UK, are believed to be worth tens of millions of pounds. Police have arrested a Barcelona gang in connection with the illicit drugs.
Drug overdose and crime rate declines in Turkey
The Turkish Interior Minister has reported a decline in the number of crimes, including drug crimes. In 2020, almost 230,000 people were detained for drug-related offences and just under 24,000 were arrested. Drug related deaths were reported to have decreased from 941 in 2017 to 175 in 2020.
Workers freed from illegal tobacco factories in Andalucía, Spain
A joint operation involving Spain’s National Police Corps (CNP) and the Spanish Tax Agency (AEAT) has led to the discovery of illegal tobacco factories in Andalucía. Police conducting the operations also found illegal Belarusian and Ukrainian workers who had been confined to the factories and who were forced to live in unhygienic conditions. An estimated €1.5 million (approx. £1.34 million) worth of cigarettes and tobacco leaf was also seized.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah has denied accusations of involvement in amphetamine production
Hezbollah, the leader of Lebanon’s militant group, has denied all involvement in methamphetamine production. The refutation follows a series of long running accusations that the organisation was involved in the drug trade from Syria, and specifically in a shipment of amphetamines that was seized by Italian authorities in 2019.