HOLLAND - "ECSTASY CENTRAL" Holland is the centre of European drug production and distribution. Last year alone, police raids of factories uncovered enough raw materials to manufacture 150-200 million E's. It's estimated that drugs provide around 6,000 residents with 'employment'. So why Holland? There's no simple explanation, but the fact that Rotterdam is the world's biggest port is a factors as is the proximity of big ecstasy markets like Britain, Germany and Belgium. The Netherlands also has an advanced chemical industry, and the perception that Holland is lenient to 'soft' drugs may encourage production of harder drugs. Since a 1995 government investigation into E, life is harder for the drug barons, but even so, it's estimated that 90 per cent of all E's coming into the UK pass through Holland.
BALTIC STATES The dramatic increase in E production in the Baltic states - especially Latvia - can be largely attributed to the closure of many highly-equipped labs and the subsequent redundancy of it's top scientists. These highly skilled men and women have had to turn to E production as a way of supporting themselves. Mind you, even back in 1992 a shipment of 11 million MDA tablets were intercepted at Frankfurt airport, which were eventually traced back to a factory in Latvia. The factory was run by a consortium of Dutch and Slovak criminals, while the factory workers believed they were manufacturing pills to cure the common cold. Meanwhile, Lithuana has a unique problem in the form of local biker gangs involved in amphetamine production and running.
RUSSIA Ethnic Russians (both in Russia itself and throughout the old Soviet Union) are thought to control a large share of drug production and distribution, with help from different ethnic groups - for example, the Azerbaijanis in the case of synthetic drugs. Traditionally, local people in the transit countries (Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania) then assist in the movement of the drugs across Europe. This still happens, but as a domestic market for E emerges in many of these countries, local criminal gangs are taking a greater control of the local drugs trade.
Worldwide, however, groups collaborate and share intelligence quite readily. In Slovakia there has been drug-related violence in many spa towns and tourist centres, and local criminal gangs are thought to have assumed some of the drug-selling around the capital, Bratislava. They are thought to be increasingly sophisticated and internationally connected. In the meantime, the overall power and resources of the so-called Russian 'mafia' is growing. They're thought to be securing their operation at both ends, maybe even moving production to a more advantageous spot. In the words of one observer: "If you go to Amsterdam, there's a lot of fucking Russians there."