European Journal of Criminology vol:5 issue:1 pages:13-37
Popular media as well as law enforcement agencies throughout Europe routinely identify members of ethnic minorities and particularly recent migrants as responsible for selling much of the illegal drugs that are consumed in Europe. Examination of the existing and modest research literature, as well as a careful reading of the official data, does indeed indicate that certain sectors of the drug market are dominated by a small number of specific immigrant groups. Turkish and Albanian ethnic groups largely control the importation, high level trafficking and open air retailing of heroin; Colombian groups dominate the importation of cocaine. However there are other major sectors of the drug market, notably those for cannabis and synthetic drugs, in which native populations seem to be more important. We offer an explanation for this configuration in terms of the advantages conferred on specific immigrant groups by tighter connections to source and transhipment countries as well as by lesser ability of police to gain co-operation within those immigrants’ communities in the consuming countries.