The Kinahan organised crime group has been named as one of the criminal networks dominating the trafficking and trade of cocaine in the European Union.

Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction said "the notorious Kinahan clan from Dublin" has also been connected to "violence and homicides in several EU Member States".

The comments were contained in an analysis of the cocaine and methamphetamine markets by the EU police and drugs agencies.

The joint report said conflict between the Kinahan's and rival groups "has led to the murder of at least 20 people in Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain".

It also said that the trial of some Kinahan clan members "revealed that specialised crime cells were established in order to kill rivals".

The report concludes that there is "a large and expanding cocaine market and a currently small, but steadily growing, methamphetamine market in the EU".

It finds that the market for cocaine, the EU's second most consumed drug after cannabis, was worth at least €10.5 billion in 2020.

The expansion of the market was "driven by unprecedented levels of trafficking, leading to historically high availability", it says.

An estimated 14 million adults in the EU aged 15 to 65 have tried the drug, which is either snorted as a white powder or smoked in a form widely known as crack cocaine.

Police seized most of the cocaine in Belgium, Netherlands and Spain in 2020, the three countries where the drug is mostly transformed after being produced in Colombia, Bolivia and Peru.

The report says Irish criminal networks are "very large wholesalers" of cocaine in the EU, and it says the groups also "store significant quantities" of the drug in European distribution hubs, mainly to supply the United Kingdom.

The agencies describe the criminal networks involved in cocaine trafficking as "highly resilient, with some operating across several continents".

"For example, some locations in the Middle East, such as the United Arab Emirates, have emerged as a safe haven for top-level organisers of cocaine trafficking to the EU."

The analysis says criminal groups involved in the cocaine trade have been "associated with the rising number of incidents of violence linked to the drugs market in the EU" over the last decade.

"In some Member States, competition between drug suppliers has intensified, resulting in an apparent increase in the number of violent clashes."

It says the expanding cocaine markets appear to have led to "an increase in the occurrence of homicides, shootings, bombings, arsons, kidnappings, torture and intimidation" particularly in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Southern Spain is also recording a significant number of "deadly score-settling incidents" between criminal networks involved in the cocaine and cannabis resin trades.

In the Costa del Sol area, the Spanish authorities report a total of 33 homicides and murders and two attempted homicides between 2018 and 2021, with Irish nationals among the victims.

Europol's Executive Director Catherine De Bolle said the trade in illegal drugs "continues to dominate serious and organised crime in the EU, and nearly 40% of the criminal networks operating at the international level reported to Europol are active in drug trafficking".

The Director of the EMCDDA, Alexis Goosdeel said: "Our new analyses show that we are now facing a growing threat from a more diverse and dynamic drug market that is driven by closer collaboration between European and international criminal organisations."

He said the issue has resulted in "record levels of drug availability, rising violence and corruption, and greater health problems".