UNCTE coordinator Rui Sousa at today's press conference. Image: Lusa

PJ warn of increase in drug flow; request more ‘means of combat’

2023 has already seen “almost same amount of drugs seized as in whole of 2022”

Portugal’s criminal investigation police agency, the PJ, has warned today of the increase in drug circulation, which has already led to the seizure this year of almost the same amount of drugs seized in 2022.

Even in the wake of successful operations like the most recent, off the coast of the northern Azores, authorities need more resources, “more means of combat”.

At a press conference held at the headquarters of the PJ’s national direction, Rui Sousa, coordinator of UNCTE – the National Unit for Combating Drug Trafficking – stressed that around 40 tonnes of drugs have been seized in Portugal in the first six months of this year, with emphasis on hashish and cocaine.

“Some drugs have already been seized in larger quantities than last year, especially hashish. 

“With regard to cocaine, it is still no higher than last year, but it is already quite considerable”, he said, suggesting this is down to “a combination of several things: an increase in the supply from producer countries and an increase in the capacity and effectiveness of authorities involved in the fight”.

Sousa explained that cocaine comes mainly from South American countries, while the hashish that has arrived in Portugal comes mainly from Morocco.

His generalised alert marks International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, and the incineration in Portugal of around six tonnes of various types of narcotics seized in recent months.

The destruction took place under the supervision of a commission composed of a magistrate of the Public Ministry, a PJ investigator and an expert from the Laboratory of Forensic Science.

In 2022, almost 42 tonnes of drugs were seized, according to the 2022 Report on Combating Drug Trafficking in Portugal, which brings together data from drug seizures made by PJ, GNR, PSP, AT tax authority, SEF foreigners and borders agency and  other State entities, such as Maritime police and DGRSP – the authority in charge of prisons.