According to the annual report, the main threats to Portugal in terms of drug trafficking are currently the trafficking of cocaine by air and sea and the trafficking of hashish, by sea and in this case “more concentrated on the Algarve and Vincentian coast”, with the Algarve coast “an area that requires special attention from the authorities in preventive and repressive terms” due to the high number of recorded occurrences.

Transit platform

According to the report, Portugal is currently a “transit platform for large amounts of hashish from Morocco, and cocaine from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia”, due to the country’s geographical position and relations with Latin America, namely Brazil.

The criminal networks that operate in drug trafficking stand out for their high levels of organisation “holding great technological capabilities and strong financial power, often having logistical support cells on national territory that facilitate their introduction into the European space” .

The RASI also mentions that criminal groups based in Spain use national waters to maintain high-speed boats used to transport drugs, with the authorities having seized more than 20 such vessels in 2021.

Increase in violence

“Portugal has registered an increase in acts of violence against people associated with drug trafficking, which constitutes a source of increased concern and demand for the authorities”, says the report.

The pandemic, but also the “measures implemented”, the RASI adds, “introduced very significant disturbances in the circuits and dynamics of trafficking”, which gave rise to “significant breaks” in remittances by land, but data from the authorities indicate that criminal groups “have been adapting to this new reality”, changing the way they act and now resorting to online markets, digital platforms, social networks and fast delivery services to reach consumers.

Drug production in the national territory continues to be insignificant, with the exception of hashish, noting that since 2020 “indoor plantations have been detected and dismantled”.

“The drugs most trafficked internally continue to be hashish, either in the form of hashish or in the form of leaves, cocaine, heroin and synthetic drugs”, adds RASI.

Official data reveal that in 2021 “15.5 tons of hashish (-56%), 10 tons of cocaine (-1.3%), 73.6 kilos of heroin (+74.6%) and 9,561 ecstasy pills were seized (-60.6%)”.

In 2021, 3,950 people were arrested for drug-related crimes, almost all were men aged 21 or over and of Portuguese nationality. 406 weapons and more than 3.7 million euros were also seized.