“Coke on Tick”: Exploring the Cocaine Market in the UK through the Lens of Financial Management

Alexandra Hall, Georgios Antonopoulos

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    In the 1990s a number of household surveys found that all four countries in the United Kingdom (UK) had levels of illicit drug use that were several times the size of any other European country (Parker, 2001). Increasing in popularity and decreasing in price in the late 1990s and early 2000s, cocaine became a sought after and more readily available drug among this drug-experienced population. By 2011 there were over 4 million users of cocaine in Western and Central Europe, within which the UK – closely followed by Spain – had the highest prevalence rates (Kilmer and Pacula, 2009; EMCDDA, 2013; UNODC, 2013). Statistics from 2003/4 valued the UK’s illicit drugs market at between £4 billion and £6.6 billion. Powder cocaine accounted for an 18 per cent share of expenditure in the market, whereas crack cocaine had a 28 per cent share (Matrix Knowledge Group, 2007; McSweeney et al, 2008; EMCDDA, 2012; see also Home Office, 2007). Both powder and crack cocaine are classified as Class A drugs in the UK. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act - which determines sentences by the class and weight of the drug - maximum sentencing for supply is life imprisonment (see Fleetwood, 2011; 2014). Yet, despite the risks involved, the sizeable demand results in large amounts of cocaine entering Britain, with various networks, means of distribution and sources of financial investment all playing a part in the process.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)181-199
    JournalJournal of Financial Crime
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2017


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