The drug market in Estonia remained constant, police reported. The primary issue was the increasing incidence of drug overdose deaths.
The Northern Prefecture's chief of the Narcotics and Organized Crime Unit, Rait Pikaro, said that the number of drug-related overdoses has doubled since 2021, even though the exact figures would not be available until March.
"There are numerous causes, but the reappearance of fentanyl analogues, which are exceedingly lethal narcotics, on the market has likely contributed to the increase in drug overdose deaths, although there are other causes as well," Pikaro said.
The so-called prescription medication-induced mixed beverages are likewise making their impact, current statistics reveal. Pikaro said that the war in Ukraine did not have a substantial effect on the drug market, however it is possible that some of the criminals' planned drug distribution channels were not put in use due to the outbreak of war. However, the restriction of the Estonian-Russian border has had a considerable effect, particularly on the drug market in Ida-Viru County. Particularly, the distribution of the recreational drug known as UFO was restricted by the closure of the border.
"In this regard, there was a great deal of foot traffic across the border in the meantime, with individuals carrying substances into Estonia. Here is an example of how the criminal underworld reacted: drones were used to transport these chemicals from the Russian side into Estonia, but we have been quite successful in stopping this activity there too," Pikaro said.
There is also a decline in drug transit, which often moved from Europe to Russia, as a result of the restriction of trade, Pikaro added.
In light of the alarming amount of overdose deaths, saving lives will continue to be the top focus for the coming year, Pikaro said. In the context of the pharmaceutical market, prescription medications might be a 2023 keyword.
Pikaro said that the police must focus on prevention, particularly among youth. "We should increase our preventative efforts. We must pay great attention to young people in order to prevent them from engaging in drug use and living a wretched lifestyle. As always, the police have a large area of responsibility, and looking back on the last year, there were a number of successes, but we cannot say that everything is perfect," Pikaro said.
Editor: Kristina Kersa